Mt. Vernon Considering Raising Property Taxes to Shore Up Pension Contributions

MT. VERNON – The state of Illinois has hit the city of Mt. Vernon with a nearly $500,000 increase to its required contributions to pension funds. In response to the bill, Mt. Vernon city leaders will be looking to raise property taxes by just over 13 percent for the coming year.

The increase would only be on the city’s portion of the tax bill, which is roughly 12 percent of a Mt. Vernon property owner’s tax obligation. The increase would be roughly $40 for a home valued at about $75,000.

If the city weren’t to find the money to foot the bill, Mt. Vernon Mayor John Lewis says that the state is allowed to withhold city sales tax money to pay the bill, which would impact services like police and fire protection. He says the pension issue is bankrupting local communities.

Lewis says roughly 85 percent of city property taxes collected go towards the state required pension contributions. Other than finding revenue to cover the bill, the only other option for the city would be to cut services. City Manager Mary Ellen Bechtel says there’s almost no more fat to trim from the bone from the city’s budget.

Last year, the city’s pension obligation increase was just over $60,000, and the city voted for a just over 2 percent property tax increase to cover that bill. Lewis says in the last six years, the state has increased Mt. Vernon’s required pension contribution by over a million dollars.

The city will hold a truth in taxation hearing before the next city council meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 18 at the Rolland Lewis Building at Veterans Park.