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Springfield opts to bump up its millage rate

POSTED: August 18, 2014 8:19 p.m.

The millage rate is increasing in Springfield, after city council members approved a hike last Tuesday night.

Council members approved the first reading of an ordinance to set the levy at 4.8 mills, up from its current 4.3 mills.

“I hate it,” said Mayor Barton Alderman, “because I pay taxes, too.”

At its retreat last month, the city council discussed several projects it wants to accomplish, including sidewalks along Early Street and several drainage improvement measures around the city. Council members also discussed how to improve parking along Cleveland Street and what to do to save the trees there.

“Part of the discussion is where does the money come from,” City Manager Brett Bennett said.

Council members and staff also have explored the desire for stronger code enforcement.

“We want to make our city safer,” council member Steve Shealy said. “We have identified projects we want to do. We have to find a way to do this.”

Though the millage rate is increasing, Bennett said some property owners may see their property taxes decrease. The city’s digest, once at $55 million, is now down to $46 million.

“The digest has dropped down,” Bennett said. “With the millage rate the same, we’re seeing less and less revenue.”

Springfield’s millage rate was as high as 6.15 in 1999 and it was 4.3 from 2006-13.

At the existing millage rate, the city expects to take in $197,177. At 4.8 mills, the expected revenue is $220,827. With a projected 90 percent collection rate, the city estimates it will receive $198,744 in property taxes at the 4.8 millage rate.

To Bennett, it’s more about how much of the revenue is based in property taxes.

“So often in local government, there’s a lot of discussion about millage rates and the digest,” Bennett said.

The net taxes, which include mobile homes and vehicles, levied with the 4.8 mills will bring in $236,174. For property owners whose property is valued at $150,000, their annual tax bill will go up $30 with the 4.8 millage rate. At property valued at $200,000, the increase is $40.

“There will be just as many people whose tax bills go down as those who go up,” Bennett said.

Council members also said an uptick in the millage now may prevent a spike in the millage in years to come.

“It will be a lot less painful if you go a little bit at a time,” said Jerry Maennche.

Because the proposed millage rate is higher than the rollback rate, the city will have to hold three public hearings on the millage rate. The hearings will be Aug. 26 at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. and Sept. 2 at 6 p.m.

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