March sales tax a boon for Silvis
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March sales tax a boon for Silvis

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SILVIS — Amid the many challenges the coronavirus is imposing on most cities, so far things are very well in Silvis.

The city just learned that its sales tax went up 157% in March from a year ago. This March the Silvis sales tax rendered $299,112. A year ago it was $138,612 for March.

City administrator Jim Grafton attributed it to the fact that Silvis has four grocery stores — Jewel, Walmart, ALDI and Hy-Vee, as well as two lumber stores — Anchor Lumber and R.P. Lumber. It’s no secret that during the pandemic people are working on their homes and eating at home more.

Grafton said he was pleasantly surprised.

“I actually anticipated that we would be down a little bit,” he said after Tuesday’s city council meeting.

“We are cautiously optimistic,” Grafton added. “But our focus now is just trying to get everything opened up in a safe manner and follow the (state's) orders and try and get those businesses that aren't opened back up, open safely. It’s good news for the city but it’s not good news for everybody because we still have businesses without revenue.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, Grafton also had some good news on the city’s TIF districts. They are bringing in more money, too.

“Our TIF districts went up $283,459 from last year,” he told the council. “It’s just another indicator of further investment and growth in our city and increasing more properties adding taxes to our city and values going up. It’s additional property tax going into our coffers that we did not have going into our coffers last year. If there’s any issues we might have to react to, we should be able to react pretty quickly.”

Grafton also had some additional good news, more in terms of timing. The state has approved getting bids July 22 for the lighted multi-use path along Avenue of the Cities to Hy-Vee.

The city received a grant more than three years ago.

“It’s just taken this long to get it designed and approved by the state,” Grafton said.

The trail was designed by Townsend Engineering of Bettendorf, and work could begin this year.

Grafton kept all the good news in perspective.

“It still doesn't take away the seriousness of what we are dealing with right now, the pandemic,” he said. “But financially at least so far, we haven't had to dip into our reserves. We’ve been able to keep all of our employees, paid at 100%.”

New assistant public works director Jeff Strayer, a Rock Island High School grad, was also appointed and approved by the council.

Also approved was a contract between the city and IMEG for $13,818.09 for this year.

City clerk Jim Nelson that city hall will re-open June 1, assuming the state is in Phase 3. A limit of four citizens at a time will be allowed in for business at once, Nelson said, among the new rules.

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