Pension problems force large property tax increase

Your property taxes are the gift that keeps on giving or, in this case, taking away from your bottom line. After originally proposing a 54 percent tax increase Herrin, Illinois, leaders will be voting to raise taxes 27 percent, or roughly $120 per year.

They’re trying to generate more than $522,000 in tax revenue to help meet their pension obligations.

As a home and business owner in Herrin, Sarah McVicker says the same thing goes through her head every time she pays her taxes: "Too much, it’s way too much."

Thanks to the rising cost of police, fire, and city employee pensions, Herrin Mayor Steve Frattini says the tax bill is on the rise again. "It’s going to be some slightly above $10 a month increase on the tax bill," said Frattini.

Frattini says while the city has followed state pension recommendations for years, a 60 percent escalation in pay for police officers prior to retirement has left the city in a hole that only tax dollars can dig them out of.

"There’s no choice involved at this point," said Frattini.  "We’ve kicked that can down the road, and we’re out of road to kick it down."

However, McVicker questions why the city can’t simply make cuts in other areas instead of asking taxpayers like her to pickup the tab.

"It’s a little frustrating," said McVicker. "I feel like funds can be pulled from other areas. I understand it, but I feel like it’s a pretty high increase."

"There’s no more room," said Frattini. "You can’t cut your way out of the hole when you are as deep as we are."

Without the tax increase, the city faces a reduction in state funding which is crucial to paying the bills.

Frattini says the city is currently in the process of eliminating the salary escalator from police contracts.

The Herrin City Council will hold their final vote on the tax increase on Monday, Dec. 28.

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