Danville mayor says city's equalized assessed valuation down 6.5%

DANVILLE — The city's equalized assessed valuation has dropped 6.5 percent, even more than officials anticipated.

Mayor Scott Eisenhauer told aldermen at their meeting Tuesday night that earlier in the day, he got the city's new EAV numbers, which partly determine the property-tax rate for taxes to be paid later this year. The new EAV is $321.7 million, a decline of 6.5 percent over last year. City officials had anticipated a 4 percent decline.

A steeper decline means the city's property-tax rate would have to increase to generate the $6.6 million in tax revenue the city requested when it approved its tax levy late last year.

But, Eisenhauer said, the city does not want its property-tax rate to increase beyond the predicted $1.97 per $100 of assessed valuation.

So, Eisenhauer said he will ask aldermen later this month to offset any rise in the rate by pulling an additional $125,000 from the city's general fund and using that money to cover costs normally paid for with property-tax revenue. That money pays for police and fire pensions, other city employee retirement and benefit costs, and bond and interest payments.

The council already agreed in December to use $725,000 from other city funds to offset any increase in the rate when they were anticipating a 4 percent decline in the EAV. Originally, city officials proposed a property-tax levy anticipating only a 2 percent decrease in the EAV, but at a December city council meeting, Supervisor of Assessments Matt Long attended told aldermen that indications were that the EAV would likely decrease 4 percent.

The city's EAV has declined the last two years. In response, the city council agreed to adjust its property-tax levy, anticipating a 4 percent decline.

Eisenhauer said pulling an additional $125,000 out of the city's general fund will not be a financial burden to the city in general or any of its departments. He said the city's general fund ended the fiscal year April 30 with a larger reserve than budgeted, so that fund can afford to offset more of the property-tax levy.

"We won't have to cut the budget or anything of that nature," said Eisenhauer, who added that the city's own policy requires that the general fund maintain a $1.2 million reserve, and the city finished the fiscal year with at least a few hundred thousand more in reserve. Eisenhauer said the exact reserve total is still to be determined as city officials are still working on year-end numbers.

He said instances like this, when the EAV decreases more than anticipated, are why it's imperative for the city to build a general fund reserve, so it does not have to pass the burden on to property taxpayers.

In other business Tuesday, Danville's new Director of Public Transportation, John Metzinger, was sworn in after aldermen concurred with the mayor's appointment.

Metzinger has worked since 2001 at CityBus in Lafayette, Ind., and will start his new post in Danville on Monday, replacing the outgoing director Dick Brazda, who is retiring. Metzinger was manager of development for CityBus, a role that included planning, marketing and customer service. He helped launch downtown trolley service and saw CityBus ridership grow by more than 175 percent.

He also was involved in introducing environmentally friendly technology at CityBus, including hybrid diesel-electric buses and wind turbines to power facilities.

Metzinger graduated from Purdue University in 1990 with a Bachelor of Arts in visual communications and earned his master's degree in Business Administration in 2012 from Indiana Wesleyan University.

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