Correcting an oversight, Pekin’s City Council lowered the amount of property taxes they’d planned to collect next year in a special meeting Wednesday.

The change could produce a slight decrease in homeowners’ tax bills next year, City Manager Tony Carson said this week.

It also eliminates the need to call a public hearing under the state’s Truth in Taxation law that would come too late in the year to hold if the city were to establish its tax levy in time to collect it next year.

The levy the council approved on Dec. 4 was for about $7 million, an increase above 4.9-percent of last year’s levy that would’ve triggered the need for the public hearing.

An estimated increase of $6.2 million in the city’s property tax base, resulting from new construction, would’ve produced the higher levy at a tax rate of $1.22 per $100 assessed valuation. That’s the current rate, which Carson and the council had agreed not to change.

The fact that the newly taxed properties would produce a levy hike of higher than 5 percent, and thus require the hearing, was not realized until after the levy was approved.

“That is solely my fault,” Carson told the council Wednesday. “I take full responsibility.”

The council unanimously approved his request for a levy readjusted to last year’s total of $6.48 million.

The addition of new properties taxed to produce that levy will likely produce a slightly lower tax rate, with a resulting lower tax bill for properties whose values aren’t assessed higher next year.

The lower levy, however, also means the city will need to withdraw about $1 million from its general fund to cover the deficit in pensions owed to retired city workers. That is about twice what the city planned to cover using revenues from the higher levy.

Carson told the council the city can’t continue using general fund dollars to pay pensions for long.

“We cannot continue financially down this path,” he said. He promised to meet with city staff over the next several months to “explore alternatives,” which could include cuts in city services.

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