Davenport approves budget including tax increases, job cuts

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The Davenport City Council approved it's final budget proposal for next year.

The decision comes with controversy, cuts, and tax increases.

Part of the filling the $4.3 million budget gap is a 5% across-the-board cut in every city department totaling $1.6 million in spending reductions and the elimination of 40 positions. Not all of the positions being cut mean layoffs. Some are through attrition and others are positions that are currently unfilled. The cuts include five police officer positions, only through attrition.

The other part of filling the gap is raising two different types of levies, which results in the average homeowner paying $72 more a year in property taxes and the average small business owner paying $313 more a year. Some of that revenue will help fund some capital improvement projects like renovating the Central Fire Station.

For the people who stood up to speak, the tax increases were the most controversial, arguing it hurts small businesses. It is the first tax increase in six years.

City Aldermen spent time reminding the public why it is in this financial situation. It says the state has increased it's mandated pension costs. The city said that six percent out of the eight percent tax increase goes toward the decisions the state has made.

Still the tax increase made the difference for many aldermen, between voting yes and voting no. Alderman Raymond Ambrose tried to suggest another option that would not increase taxes but would cut more jobs, including police officers and fire fighters. His suggestion, called "Option D" was eventually voted down by other aldermen who argued it took too much of a toll on public safety in the city.

The budget passed by a margin of 7-3.

The cuts and the tax hikes are also to prepare the city for FY2014, but even with the changes, the city is estimating that an additional $700,00 in cuts will need to be made to balance that budget.

Mayor Bill Gluba told News 8 in the beginning of the budget process that it would not be an easy decision and there needs to be an understanding of "shared sacrifice" between everyone in the community.

"The City Council wants to be fair to employees, fair to the public, and try to keep property taxes as low as we possibly can," said Mayor Gluba.