By RANDY PIERCE
Within almost an exact year since the city of Fairview Heights celebrated the 50th anniversary of its incorporation as a municipality, local elected officials have reacted to the devastating economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic by reluctantly passing legislation calling for the implementation of three taxes in the community.
The city of Fairview Heights was formally incorporated as a municipality in Illinois in early October 1969.
After a very thorough and detailed presentation by Mayor Mark Kupsky (shown) at the City Council Finance Committee meeting held early this month, outlining the grim situation regarding drastically declining revenue, the ordinances approved include those calling for a “simplified telecommunications tax,” a utility tax and a natural gas use tax.
The legislation as approved at the City Council meeting of Tuesday, Sept. 15, offers the municipality, as Kupsky explained, these three sources for bringing in more income to help with the operations of the city and that can produce some additional needed income in the most expeditious manner.
As allowed by state law and utilized in other communities throughout Illinois, the telecommunications tax will show up on telephone bills, both cellular and landlines, along with pagers, computer exchange services, two-way radio at a rate of six per cent including retail sales of such devices.
The city has held the right to implement this telecommunications tax since it was passed at the state level in 2003 but has not been in such a serious financial dilemma until this year.
Municipal utility taxes that were also part of the legislative package passed by the city council on Sept. 15 cover local use of gas, electricity and water for use or consumption with the companies providing such services adding it to their bills then upon collecting it, turning it over to the city on a monthly basis.
The utility tax concerning electricity is calculated on the basis of a graduating scale measuring kilowatt hours used or consumed and in the case of water or gas (for heating or cooking, not put into vehicles), it is to be paid at a rate of five per cent, again to be provided by the service provider to the city monthly after collecting it from customers.
The third ordinance establishing a means of increased and much needed revenue for the city deals with natural gas with any purchased for consumption being imposed at a rate of five cents per therm, a unit of measurement utilized in such transactions and added to other gas tax collected.
These three taxes were part of a presentation of possible income sources shared by Kupsky with the city council’s finance committee in early September and were pursued because of, as stated earlier, how quickly their enaction can infuse extra income into the city’s budget.
Kupsky’s presentation additionally included information about other taxes not in place here but utilized for revenue in many other communities to fund public services.
Looming largely on the city’s horizon as a significant producer of income yet traditionally and always avoided by elected officials throughout the history of Fairview Heights is a property tax.
Residents’ property tax bills currently indicate a zero on the line for what they pay into the city while they do pay into other government and taxing entities listed.
A library tax, parks district tax and tax to help support police pensions are others that had been presented by Kupsky for possible consideration.