DANVILLE – There was some pomp and circumstance for a historical moment in the city as Acting Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. was sworn in as the city’s first African-American mayor at Tuesday night’s city council meeting.
Following the swearing in, however, it was business as usual and aldermen discussing finances as the council heard about investments for pension funds and discussed other scenarios for the city’s new tax levy.
“Let’s let the honeymoon at least last tonight,” said Ward 3 Alderman R.J. Davis at the end of the approximately two-hour meeting and prior to a reception for Williams at city hall.
Davis also told the new mayor that Williams will hit the ground running. Davis said he can’t wait to see what will happen in the weeks ahead.
Williams told those in attendance at the full city council chambers he is honored to serve as mayor. It was a dream of his. He said citizens also can always expect honesty from him; that he will be a good steward of the city’s resources; and “I will give you my all every day.”
Williams said he’s looking forward to achieving great results for the city.
Aldermen continued tax levy discussions Tuesday night, as another scenario proposes $410,000 in city cuts and/or new revenue in addition to a 10 percent public safety pension fee increase and 4.98 percent property tax increase.
Williams said he’s not proposed any cuts yet, but wants to take a couple months to observe and make some recommendations. He’s also asked for aldermen leadership and input.
He said one possible new revenue source could be an additional 1 percent to the hotel/motel tax to make it around 7 percent and similar to hotels surrounding Danville. That additional 1 percent could generate about an additional $100,000 to go directly to the city, he said.
Some aldermen voiced concerns about finding those hundreds of thousands of cuts in a short time before the levy has to be approved next month.
Aldermen also are talking about not approving a new city budget, that would go into effect May 1, 2019, until next year.
“This would commit us to do so,” Williams said about making cuts while asking citizens for additional money.
The proposed increase to the city’s property tax would mean an additional $15.65 on a house valued at $60,000 or $30.56 on a house valued at $100,000. The public safety pension fee would increase $2.23 a month for a single-family home.
Williams believes the increases are “fair and reasonable” for residents to “do their fair share” to help pay for the city’s pension debt and budget costs.