Tax Levy Stays at Zero While Water Rates Will Increase in 2023

By Jeremy Coumbes on December 14, 2022 at 10:10am

The City of Jacksonville isn’t asking for an increase in property taxes this year, however, one utility will now see an increase in costs next year.

Last night the Jacksonville City Council approved a second reading of the 2022 tax levy keeping the ask for a 0% increase for the second straight year.

The council also deliberated during the workshop session between two options for setting the 2023 water and sewer rates, one with ARPA funding included and one without.

Mayor Andy Ezard says despite the council electing to include the ARPA funding in projects to help keep the water rates low, they will be going up in the new year. “Unfortunately we’re going to have to raise them. We do it every year, but this one’s going to be a little more significant because we have many projects in the pipeline.

We have a sewer plant that will be phased and is going to cost over thirty million dollars over several years. And if people recall years ago when we were starting to do the water plant, we had to do a significant increase.”

Ezard says comparatively, Jacksonville’s water rates will still be lower than most communities of similar size and usage with better quality. “We have a very good product, our water plant produces great water. You know, you don’t want to raise the rates, but overall a basic rate for someone that uses the minimum will increase it a little under five dollars.

And unfortunately, that’s going to escalate over the course of the years coming up. So we had to bite the bullet on this one and I think people understand when you produce a good quality product and with infrastructure upgrades, it’s just something that we have to take hold of.”

Ezard says he hopes that keeping the tax levy at zero will help out area families who are feeling the crunch from inflation and the current economic conditions.

He says as much as the city tried to keep from increasing the rates, inflation and the need to continue long overdue upgrades at the wastewater treatment plant means an eventual rate increase was inevitable.

Jacksonville’s current wastewater treatment plant was constructed in 1971 with the last major update coming in 1988. Currently, the plant is not able to process the appropriate amount of sludge to meet IEPA standards, and the US EPA has set new phosphorus limits the plant will have to comply with starting in 2025.