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    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

Fayette council seeks replacement of levies 2012.08.01

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Fayette residents will face a difficult choice in November when they will be asked to increase the taxes they pay.

Passage of the request, however, will lead to something most residents will appreciate: new pavement on village streets.

As village council members try to deal with a shortage of cash, one means of bolstering village finances is to consider voting for a replacement of the existing 2.9-mill levy rather than a renewal.

Ever since the levy was first established in 1968, voters have been asked only to renew the levy every five years. This means that property valuations are still tied to those from more than 40 years ago. By “replacing” the levy, valuations would be brought up to current levels and that results in higher taxes paid.

If approved by voters in November, the new values would not take effect until 2014 since the existing levy continues through 2013.

Village solicitor Tom Thompson told council members at the July 25 meeting that taxpayers need to realize that they’re already paying most of what the new rate would become. He characterized the increase as relatively small.

Examples of how taxes would increase will be provided to residents before the election. Voters will also be asked to replace the existing 2.0-mill park levy.

The idea for seeking the replacement came from concerns about obtaining a $400,000 street resurfacing grant. All streets torn up through the sewer separation project will be repaired and resurfaced through the Long Term Control Plan sewer project. However, that leaves several streets remaining in their present condition.

Former village administrator Amy Metz applied for a $400,000 grant to resurface the remaining streets. The village was awarded the money, but half the cost must be paid through a zero-interest loan to be repaid over 10 years.

The Village doesn’t have the needed $20,400 for an annual loan payment, but as village fiscal officer Lisa Zuver pointed out at the July 11 committee meeting, it’s an offer that’s too good to let slip by. That led to the idea of a replacement levy.

Village administrator Steve Blue said that the poor condition of village streets is generally the top concern expressed by residents. Combine that with a one-time opportunity to have resurfacing done at half price, he said, and it leads council to ask for help from residents at the polls in November.

“Council has been very hesitant to do anything to increase taxes and has over the last several years pared its budget while revenues from the state have decreased,” Blue wrote in a statement before the meeting. “We expect another decrease in state funding to municipalities to be announced in August so if we are to have streets that are in good condition it is imperative that this tax levy is passed.”

Council members took the first step at their meeting last week by passing a resolution to ask the county auditor’s office to determine the amount of money that would be raised by the replacement levy. A preliminary estimate came in at $21,000, a figure that would almost exactly cover the loan cost.

Council voted 5-0 to approve the resolution, with councilor Mat Johnson absent.

The final step was expected today in a special council meeting to look at the auditor’s report and pass a resolution to place the request on the November ballot.

Councilor Julia Ruger suggested scheduling a public meeting to explain the road project and the replacement request.

When village council members considered seeking a replacement levy for 2.9-mill tax in December 2007, the county auditor estimated that the owner of a $75,000 house would pay about $1.20 a week extra.

  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • Front.lift
    MORENCI student Dalton McCowan puts everything into a dead lift attempt Saturday morning during the Wyseguy Push/Pull event. Lifters helped raise more than $1,600 for the family of the late Devin Wyse, a former Morenci power-lifter who graduated last year. Commemorative T-shirts are still available by contacting teacher Dan Hoffman.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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