If Pekin property owners see a slight increase in their city property tax bills, it won’t be the result of an increase in the city’s property tax rate.

The City Council on Monday night approved a tax levy that will keep the rate for next year’s tax bills the same as this year’s, at $1.22 per $100 of assessed valuation.

That will produce about $7.013 million in property taxes, an increase due to a total $6.2 million rise in the value of property in the city for taxing purposes.

The levy, however, leaves the city about $500,000 short of revenue to pay the rising cost of pensions for retired city workers. As it did last year, the city will have to cover the gap from its general funds account, said City Manager Tony Carson.

That drew criticism from council member Lloyd Orrick, who challenged Carson to find savings, perhaps by reducing city services, to avoid the pension-based deficit.

“We can’t continue down this path,” Orrick said. “We’ll have to take steps to reduce pension (costs) and review city services.”

Carson replied that services and employee costs have been cut in recent years. Covering the pension-based deficit, one produced by state mandates that govern pension levels, would require a 10-percent increase in the property tax rate, he said.

“We are making an effort to hold the line on taxes,” said Mayor John McCabe. “The (tax) rate will stay the same.”

Orrick cast the lone vote against approving the levy. Its approval was required this month for the city to receive the property tax revenue generated by the rate.

In other business, the council unanimously approved a total of $37,500 in grants and loans from the city’s Downtown Tax Increment Finance District fund to help two people convert a former auto service station at 507 Court St. into a tavern and eatery.

Thomas West of Pekin and his fiancee, Dori Edwards, plan to open the West Dublin Irish Pub next spring, possibly by St. Patrick’s Day. They purchased the one-story building and are investing $250,000 in the project.

Follow Michael Smothers at Twitter.com/msmotherspekin