Better Late Than Never: Savanna City Council Approves Tax Abatements
By MICHAEL MILLER | For The Prairie Advocate News
SAVANNA – The inclement weather pushed back the regularly scheduled Savanna City Council meeting by one day, as the Thursday, December 20th meeting was postponed and rescheduled for Friday, at 1:00, but the Council did what it had to do before the first of January, passing two tax abatement ordinances and approving the annual tax levy ordinance.
A lightly attended meeting saw most department heads absent, as they had to attend to their regular, daily duties. The sole exception was Treasurer/Comptroller Sheryl Sipe, who pinch hit for the absent City Clerk Paul Hartman. Council members Bill Robinson, Bill Scott, Peg Haffey, Merle Long, Tony McCombie, Lois Hunsaker and Carol Fosdick attended, as well as Mayor Larry Stebbins. with Jeff Griswold absent.
During discussion of the previous meeting’s minutes, Peg Haffey noted one area she wanted more clearly and correctly defined from that meeting’s tax levy discussion. She mentioned that defining the tax levy as being “11 percent over the previous year” wasn’t technically correct, and that a more proper definition would be “111 percent” or six percent over what is allowed by the Carroll County assessment (which allows up to 105 percent).
The Council also gave final approval in the second readings of two ordinances governing the abatement of tax bonds, specifically “2004A” and “2004B” bonds. Stebbins explained that these deal with the two TIF districts in the City, and if the taxes from both districts are not abated, then the citizens of Savanna would have to face a tax increase to pay for these bonds. Over the years, he went on, the sales tax from these two areas have generated enough money to cover the bonds, though he added that in one of these districts that may no longer be the case fairly soon. Both ordinances, #2025 and #2026, were quickly and unanimously approved.
An ordinance authorizing the annual tax levy, #2027, was given final approval after its second reading, with no discussion.
A fairly lengthy discussion of the 2012 Financial Report’s Auditor’s notes ensued, with Fosdick making suggestions regarding ways to potentially address “segregating” work in the office (which has been mentioned in the report for many years, apparently). Sipe noted that this is in fact, being done, but with fewer and fewer staff there is only so much switching off that can be done.
The relationship between the City and various volunteer organizations was also discussed at length.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Stebbins produced materials relating to National Incident Management System training, with several new members of the Council now seated. The mayor said that this training (which certifies that certain Council members are able to manage a City in the case of an emergency) is vital because it directly correlates to a City’s eligibility for grant funding, including the recent mitigation project he’d been working on. He mentioned that this is the first time that a City has been allowed to work on a portion of a plan without it being formally approved, and that the officials were very impressed with the amount and detail presented to them by McCombie.
The mayor also noted that Scott will not be seeking re-election when his term expires.