Champaign Council Finalizes Sales Tax Hike
By Jeff Bossert
With very little debate, the Champaign City Council has finalized raising the sales tax by a quarter of a percentage point.
The $2.8 million raised by hiking the sales tax rate to 9 percent will fund six additional police officers, maintain full service at a west side fire station, and keep current hours at the public library.
The 8-to-1 tally was the same as last week’s study session - with the only no vote coming from council member Deb Feinen, who has suggested the council look for more cuts.
A few years ago, Council member Marci Dodds said the city did exactly that, line by line, but that is not an option this time.
“There is no Nixonian slush fund just waiting to pay for police, fire, and the library," she said. "There is no money sitting idle in other departments. Champaign’s finances have been well and conservatively managed. And we have made the hard decisions all the way along.”
The Champaign County Chamber of Commerce had encouraged businesses to speak out against the tax hike, but no one from there spoke publicly Tuesday night.
Council members also approved the $114.6 million fiscal budget by that same 8-to -1 count.
The vote was much tighter as the council approved a 6-percent increase in the sanitary sewer fee on a count of 6- to-3, something three council members say they couldn’t support with the other tax hike.