RICO Board approves tax levy increase, not before rejecting it first

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Rock Island County will have a budget, with funding, but that wasn't the case right away. Board members took one vote on the tax levy ordinance that would help balance funds that need to be replenished next year, but it would increase the property tax rate by 16.8%.

It first failed 11 to 13.

"I did exactly what I needed to do for my district. I did what my people sent me here to do, and that made my job a little bit easier," Rock Island County board member Drue Mielke said.

The board was given three alternatives to use instead of what new county administrator Dave Ross proposed, but they were told each one would require borrowing money, something they want to avoid.

"I'm not telling anyone how to vote, but I`ll tell you, do some deep thinking of why we brought Mr. Ross here, and what you`re looking at," Rock Island County board chairman Ken Maranda said.

The vote was reconsidered and approved.

For those who opposed the levy increase, it's a decision that isn't sitting well.

"This is Rock Island County, but it`s not an island. I`m seeing way too many people leave the county because of property tax increases. We`re sending the wrong message," Mielke said.

Maranda says now that everything is passed, it`s important for the county to move forward from this point on.

Mielke agrees, but he hopes that the board considers some alternative plan to avoid this contentious moment again.

"Maybe we can still implement some of those things that were talked about and maybe defer having a tax increase from a year from now. I don`t want to see that either. I don`t want to see any tax increase, but it is what it is, and we`ll move forward with that," Mielke said.

A government task force is reviewing all workings of Rock Island County government to see what could be changed, but Ross says there is still likely to be another property tax increase next year that will require a public vote.