Keokuk Still Looking At Significant Property Tax Hike

Keokuk, IA – Keokuk Police Chief Tom Crew says members of his department and the Keokuk Fire Department have received a holiday pay incentive for years.

Crew says employees receive time-and-a-half if they work on a holiday. He says they also receive a lump-sum payment in June, even if they don't work a single holiday.

Union members receive about $900. Administrators in each department earn a bit more based on their ranks.

The Keokuk City Council's proposed budget includes a suspension of the incentive for administrators. The move would save the city about $17,000.

The council received a description of the program during a special meeting. The information led the panel to pledge to re-instate the $17,000 as long as enough money is saved in the departments' budgets during the fiscal year.

The move will have little impact on Keokuk's nearly $27-million dollar spending plan, in particular, on a projected $1.00 increase in the city's overall property tax rate.

The $1.00 increase is broken down between the employee benefits levy and the debt service levy. Finance Sub-Committee Chairwoman Susan Dunek says the move was necessary given the city's financial situation.

"We already are at our maximum levy for our general fund," says Dunek, "without any surplus there, we had to turn to the places where we needed money."

The projected tax hike and an increase in the state roll-back means Keokuk residents will pay an additional 10% in city property taxes, compared to last year. They will pay even more if their properties increase in value.

A public hearing is scheduled for the first week of March.