The Village of Caseyville scheduled a 15-minute public hearing for Wednesday at 6 p.m. to give residents an opportunity to question the need for a 17.5 percent property tax increase.
At about 6:15 p.m. Wednesday, the Board of Trustees will vote on the proposed increase. The hearing is legally required because the Board is proposing a tax levy increase of more than 5 percent.
Brenda Williams, chairperson of the Finance Committee on the Board, said the increase is needed for the Police Pension Fund, Social Security and the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (the retirement account for Illinois municipal employees).
“They have been underfunded for a few years,” Williams said. “We have to raise taxes to bring the funds closer to what they should be. It is hard to pay when the money is not available.”
Williams was unsure who would present the reasoning for the proposed increase at the hearing. Diel and Forguson LLC resigned as the Village Treasurers on Dec. 5, Williams said. Black removed Diel and Forguson LLC as treasurers soon after taking office in May 2013 and did not appoint a replacement. The company was brought back on March 26, 2014. Diel and Forguson’s recent resignation means Caseyville has spent more time without a treasurer than with one since Black took office.
Attorney fees were not cited by Williams as a reason for the proposed 17.5 percent property tax increase. The fiscal year 2015 budget allowed for $65,400 in non-tax increment finance attorney fees. Weilmunester Law Group, P.C. – appointed village attorneys on Aug. 20 to replace both John Gilbert and the Law Office of Christopher Cueto, Ltd. – racked up $23,872.83 in legal fees by the end of September, or about $597 for each day of the week they were village attorney’s during that timeframe.
The majority of the Village’s legal expenses have been spent on its unsuccessful contention that it acted properly when it terminated former Police Chief Jose Alvarez on May 21 and the on its ultimate successful termination of Alvarez. Trustee Wally Abernathy estimated that Caseyville spent $150,000 on legal fees on the matters.
The Village continues to challenge Judge Stephen McGlynn’s order that Alvarez be reinstated as an employee, be given back pay to May 21 and be given health care benefits from May 21 until his ultimate termination on Nov. 17. Caseyville also continues to utilize Brian Manion, of Weilmuenster, to challenge Alvarez’s unemployment benefits. Manion bills the village at $165 per hour.
According to the hearing notice Caseyville posted online, anyone who wishes to appear at the public hearing and present testimony is to contact Leslie McReynolds, at 618-344-1234, ext. 224.