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Coal City could see tax increase to handle dispatch costs

COAL CITY – The village of Coal City may need a tax increase to pay for the anticipated increase in emergency dispatch service costs next fiscal year.

The Village Board discussed the added dispatch costs, while going over the proposed budget for fiscal year 2015 at its board meeting earlier this week, Village Administrator Matt Fritz said Friday.

For the last three years, Coal City has paid $50,000 a year for dispatching services through the Grundy County Dispatch Center’s first intergovernmental agreement.

The new agreement is awaiting approval and will go into effect next fiscal year. If it passes, Coal City will be paying about $87,801 a year for the next three years. The agreement includes 14 police, fire and municipal entities who all have to vote on the agreement.

Although Coal City has been fighting against the $37,000 increase in dispatch costs, Fritz said they are including that increase in the 2015 budget.

The village has discussed funding the increased expenditure by potentially raising the property tax rate, but Fritz said it would be several months before the board will pass any tax levy increases.

“It will most likely be funded through a tax increase like we’ve said from the beginning,” Fritz said. “The board isn’t completely sold on that, but that’s what I’m going to propose to them.”

The board also discussed halting its business improvement loan program next year.

The facade improvement program began three years ago when the village set aside $100,000 to loan to local businesses wanting to beautify their buildings. They scaled back the funds to $65,000 a year later.

Spivey’s Saloon was the first local business to take advantage of the program, applying for nearly $40,000 in loan money to add new windows, brick, limestone, lighting and signs to its establishment on Broadway Street.

The second business to take a loan was Bass Investment Corp., which manages the currently vacant building at 640 S. Broadway St. Bass used the $25,000 loan to upgrade to a brick facade and install new windows. The loans are interest free for the first 36 months. Fritz said the loans are meant to be easier to attain and more affordable than loans offered through a bank.

“[The village has] other ways to get the money back,” Fritz said. “We essentially have the ability to record something against your title. If all else fails, we can always get it against the title.”

But next year, the program will probably be shelved until the two existing loans are repaid, Fritz said.

“We’ve expended through that original money,” Fritz said. “So as opposed to putting more money out there right now, the village is just waiting for those existing loans to come in before extending that program any longer.”

The finalized 2015 budget must be ready for passage by May 30, the end of Coal City’s fiscal year. Fritz said village officials hope to have it passed by mid-April.

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