COW Quick Story: Geneva Ready to Raise Tax Levy, Spend $500,000 for Software Upgrade

Two big-ticket issues receive split votes Monday night.

The city of Geneva's Committee of the Whole faced up to a number of big issues Monday night, voting to recommend increasing the city's tax levy and paying more than a half-million dollars for a new, citywide computer software system.

The COW voted 6-1 to recommend approval of the levy and 5-2 to recommend approval of the new computer software system. The full City Council has the final vote, but since the COW is made up of the same group of aldermen as the City Council, the recommendations usually stand.

First Ward Alderman Sam Hill voted against both agenda items. On the computer software issue, he was joined by 2nd Ward Alderman Richard Marks.

If approved by the full council, the city's total levy will go up from $6,261,929 in 2010 to $6,421,027 in 2011. That's an increase of 2.4 percent.

The problem facing all taxing bodies is that the Equalized Assessed Value (EAV) of properties in Geneva are dropping, which means the city has to raise the levy and the tax rate if it is to maintain the same level of services.

"Our charge is to provide the best economic value, not the cheapest," 5th Ward Alderman Craig Maladra said. "The responsible thing to do is to look at the big picture and ask ourselves, 'How do we continue to provide the level of services people have come to expect?' "

Maladra noted that the tax increase for the average home would be about $11.

Hill disagreed.

"I think an increase of any amount in these economic conditions is contrary to what should be happening," he said.

Meanwhile, council members recommended the purchase of a $515,000 citywide software system that would replace software that's more than two decades old and becoming obsolete.

The new software also would be a big upgrade for Geneva customers as well as city staff, allowing residents to pay bills online, search for data about their billing history and have easier access to city documentation and forms. For the staff, it will decrease duplication of efforts and help communication between departments.

Marks said he had no argument that the old system needed to be replaced but wondered whether the city might have been able to find a software package for less money.

"I just find it hard to believe it’s going to take a half-million-dolar piece of software to do what we need it to do," he said.

Jim MacRunnels November 15, 2011 at 05:51 PM
"There he goes again...." well what is it a tax increase or not? Mr. Burns' letter to the editor last week stated there was no increase, so what gives? Is this just another shell game?
Bob McQuillan November 15, 2011 at 06:51 PM
Every taxing body (city, county, school, township, library & park district) are facing the same issue and are trying their best to hold spending while our houses are losing value every year. These taxing bodies were warned by the FACTS group three years again that this was going to happen. Many made minor cuts and pushed other costs down the road. $11.00 doesn't sound like much but add it to the school increase proposed to range from $307 and $403 for a home assessed at $288,000. Then add in the increased electric & water rates and the total will be over $500 per taxpayer. Hopefully the township, county, library & park district will not increase their tax levy. One can only hope. The decisions aren't easy and they will only get worse when home assessments drop another 10-13% next year. What are the taxing bodies planning for next year?
Jim MacRunnels November 15, 2011 at 07:15 PM
You are right Bob. The time for tax increases are over. It is time for the leadership to look at the programs being offered and make cuts, deep cuts. This it's only a dollar more or 11 dollar a year is all adding up. The county was on board for the 1% sales tax increase last year and the 2 cent gas tax increase the year before. The well is going dry and they need to get a plan.
Nate November 20, 2011 at 03:43 AM
Since they say "For the staff, it will decrease duplication of efforts and help communication between departments". Great, so how many positions will this efficiency eliminate. That's right this is government and not the real world!
JMZ January 19, 2012 at 03:40 PM
I've always said - If government was run the way I had to run my household, we wouldn't be in as much of a mess. It's so easy to spend other people's money, isn't it? Also, I'm a firm believer that government employees need to save their own money for retirement (like I do) and not get tax-payer funded pensions. I also don't believe in allowing Unions for government employees. And, the Geneva Fire Department should NOT be sending out an entire crew in an expensive fire truck to perform their routine inspections of businesses. What a giant waste of our money!!!


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