State law on hospital exemption sends property taxes up in Urbana

URBANA — Memo to Urbana residents: better hold on to any state and federal income tax refunds. You're going to need them to pay your new property tax bill, or your rental costs.

County property tax bills that will go out in the mail May 2 will reflect an average 10.43 percent increase for Urbana residents. Champaign residents will be paying about 3.84 percent more.

DOLLARS AND SENSE: Dude, where's my 32.2 percent raise?

The good news: NerdWallet recently deemed Champaign the third-fastest-growing city in Illinois, based on population growth, employment growth and income growth.

Every penny counts

Calling all 4x4 enthusiasts. For sale: 1967 Kaiser Jeep M-715 five-quarter ton truck. Restorable. Ran when parked. Interested? Contact the village of Fisher at 217-897-1180.

If restoring old military trucks doesn't pique your interest, then maybe several old fire hydrants will, at the nice price of $100 apiece.

Pension 'fix' may spark an exodus

Flaw in law's wording means some employees will lose major benefits unless they retire before July 1

A wording glitch in a new state pension law is prompting hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of professors and other state university employees in Illinois to consider retiring before July 1 to avoid significant benefit cuts.

Survey says: Local economy looking up

CHAMPAIGN — Folks attending Busey Bank's economic seminar Wednesday were more optimistic about the local economy than they were about the stock market, a survey shows.

The survey, distributed to the 600 or so in attendance, found they expect:

— Retail sales in Champaign County to total $2.8 billion this year, up 5.8 percent from 2013.

Scharlau: Champaign County 'growing forward'

CHAMPAIGN — Busey Bank Vice Chairman Ed Scharlau believes Champaign County has more construction going on than any other county in downstate Illinois.

Minnesota joins states raising minimum wage

BRIAN BAKST, Associated Press

Numbers backing up Realtors, homebuyers who claim market is finally on rebound

At 9 a.m. March 21, a house went on the market in Savoy's Prairie Fields subdivision.

At noon, Kristy and Gerald Wilson looked at it.

At 5, they made an offer on it.

Then they put their home in Southwood on the market on April 3, a Thursday.

It sold three days later.

Real estate sales by the numbers, 2006-2013

The News-Gazette obtained records for every property transaction in the county from 2006 through 2013 from Champaign County Supervisor of Assessments Stan Jenkins.

From the data:

The seven most active towns in terms of residential sales (condos and duplexes excluded), from highest to lowest: Champaign, Urbana, Mahomet, Rantoul, Savoy, St. Joseph and Tolono.

Tourist season has arrived

April is a busy month for tourism in Champaign County, and maybe nobody knows that more than Visit Champaign County President and CEO Jayne DeLuce.

Under the glow of a couple Boneyard Arts Festival displays, she sat down with The News-Gazette to talk about what's going on this month and why it's so important to the area.

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