PEKIN — The City Council voted Monday to postpone action on proposed ordinances that would impose new taxes and raise the existing Local Motor Fuel Tax.
Councilman Mark Luft made a motion to table discussion on a proposal to introduce taxes on the use, consumption and delivery of gas and electricity in Pekin, as well as a proposal to raise the motor fuel tax from 4 cents a gallon to 8 cents a gallon. Councilman Michael Garrison seconded Luft’s motion.
“I think it’s only right and should become part of our foundation to our processes with issues that are this important to give community members more time to digest this and look at it, ask questions and give their input to the seven people up here they elected to make decisions for them,” said Luft. “We’ve heard from the public, and I think it should be an easy vote to table both of those taxes.”
The motion to postpone discussion of the proposed utility tax and the proposed doubling of the motor fuel tax passed unanimously with councilman John Abel abstaining. Further discussions will take place during a special council meeting on April 29.
Both measures sparked public comments.
Charles Davis urged the council to vote against or postpone discussion of both items.
“The real bottom line is ... there’s just no more money in the well,” he said. “We have local governments coming after small pieces of a penny. It all adds up, and at this particular point in time, it’s just too much. As a senior, it makes me wonder whether or not I should stay or whether I should bite the bullet and try someplace where it’s cheaper to live.”
Donald Schorr spoke out in favor of the tax ordinances.
“We know we have problems (infrastructure and unfunded pension obligations), and they don’t have easy solutions,” said Schorr. “Nobody likes new taxes. I’m not thrilled about paying a new tax, but I understand there’s an issue. It needs addressed, and it’s a hard issue. Let’s take action now and get ahead of it.”
The council also approved its 2020 budget by a 4-2 vote. Abel abstained and Garrison and councilman Lloyd Orrick voted against the measure. Garrison’s objection to approving a new budget is that the city is currently under audit by an independent accountant.
“The input that has come in has been ‘I’m not going to vote for a budget without an audit,’ or ‘You guys shouldn’t vote for that budget without seeing that audit,’” he said. "I don’t know if there’s a clear picture of exactly how much impact that audit has on the current budget. I can’t vote for a budget until I’ve read the audit. I just can’t do it in good conscience.”
In other business, the council unanimously approved to eliminate the recycling center located on Second Street and to reduce the speed limit on 14th Street from Park Avenue to Court Street and from Court Street to Highland Street from 30 mph to 20 mph.