DeKALB - The DeKalb City Council rejected two measures on first reading Monday that would have increased residents' natural gas and electricity taxes. The decision to kill the proposals before they even made it to a second reading is an indication of some aldermen's reluctance to use tax hikes to fill a hole in the city budget. The increases, along with a hotel-motel tax proposal, are included in the city's 2009 proposed budget. The budget should focus on cutting spending rather than generating new revenue from tax increases, DeKalb residents said during a public hearing at the council's meeting Monday evening. Grace Mott said during the public hearing that there were good recommendations to cut expenses. She called on the council to “lower the budget before it should consider passing these (tax) increases.” Concerns about overspending have been brought up by residents and members of the council's finance advisory committee throughout the budget process. Second Ward Alderman Kris Povlsen said his vote against the natural gas tax measure was “philosophical.” “We already raised the sales tax,” he said. “At this time I'm opposed to raising more taxes toward the general fund.” Povlsen and four other aldermen voted against the proposal to raise the natural gas tax, which would have cost the average family of four an additional $20.16 per year. The electricity tax increase, costing the average homeowner an additional $4.68 per year, was voted down 4-3. First Ward Alderman Bertrand Simpson, who voted to allow the measure to continue to a second reading, argued the vote would not guarantee the increase would pass. “I'm also anxious to hear what the (finance) advisory committee will say,” Simpson said. “I would prefer that everything be on the table.” He added that moving the proposal forward would keep all options available and would “not put the citizens in any additional jeopardy.” A proposal must pass both first and second readings to be adopted as an ordinance. To be considered for next year, the two rejected proposals must start at the beginning of the cycle and be rewritten and reconsidered, city clerk Donna Johnson said. Proposals that passed the first reading Monday and will continue to a second reading include a hotel-motel tax increase from 5 percent to 6 percent and increases in water rates and fees and refuse fees.
If you go The Finance Advisory Committee is scheduled to give budget recommendations to the DeKalb City Council at a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the DeKalb Municipal Building, 200 S. Fourth St.