Kane council due to hike taxes to add police officer

Ted Lutz
Staff Writer

It appears likely that the Kane Borough Council will increase taxes to pay for a fourth full-time police officer.
The issue was the major topic aired Wednesday at a two-hour council workshop at the borough building.
During the discussion, a majority of council members at the forum endorsed a plan to raise the borough tax rate by .625 mills. 
Based on this proposed hike, property owners would pay 62.5 cents more in taxes for every $1,000 in assessed property valuation.
The increase is expected to generate about $48,000 more in revenue. This revenue jump — plus a projected decrease in the budget for part-time officers — should be sufficient to cover the cost of hiring another full-time policeman.
Chief Heath Boyer and Officers Derrick Snyder and Bill Nichols are the current full-time members of the Kane Police Department. The borough uses at least four part-time police officers to help cover the 1,092 eight-hour shifts annually.
The original proposal for providing around-the-clock police coverage in Kane called for a one-mill increase in the tax rate. 
Mayor Brandy Schimp, the ex officio head of the police department, sought public comments on the need to raise taxes to provide full-time police coverage.
Information was provided through a survey on social media on the internet and by written remarks and phone calls to the mayor.
Schimp said there is "a 50-50" split on the plan to raise taxes to pay for 24/7 police coverage.
The increase of .625 mills seems to be a compromise solution that most council members will endorse next Wednesday at a business meeting. The forum at 6:30 p.m. at the borough building on Bayard Street is open to the public.
Council is expected to act at the meeting to approve a proposed 2019 borough budget. The proposal will be open for public inspection at the borough building after council votes on the spending plan next week. Action on a final budget is expected at the Dec. 12 council meeting.
Council President Tom Kase called the .625-mill increase "a reasonable solution" for providing around-the-clock police coverage.
Councilwoman Linda Kerek said a hike of .625 mills is "more palatable" than an increase of one mill as previously proposed.
Schimp said a raise of .625 mills in taxes "would get the job done" in enabling the borough to hire another police officer.
Councilman Dave Walker and Councilwoman Melanie Clabaugh also seem to favor the compromise tax hike for police.
Councilman Gary Schul, however, said he would not support any tax hike over .25 mills. Schul, who said he has been retired for 17 years, believes any tax increase will hurt those who live on fixed incomes.
Resident Mick Petruney agreed.
"Think about how many people in Kane are living on fixed incomes," he said. 
He said the .625-mill increase might be "a piece of cake" for "working people" to pay. But he believes the hike could be a financial burden for Kane's senior citizens, who live on "fixed incomes" such as social security.

For full article, check the Nov. 8, 2018 printed or e-edition of The Kane Republican.