The city of Nauvoo and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints tentatively agreed on a pilot program that would allow the church to file tax exemptions on 35 pieces of property the church uses for religious purposes.
As a part of the deal, the church agreed to pay the city and other taxing bodies an annual payment in lieu of taxes.
The state of Illinois approved the exemption, so 35 properties, worth $4,600,000 dropped off the city's tax roles.
And that's when the problems began.
"We'd already done our tax levy just like everybody else, based upon $23,000,000 of assessed value for Nauvoo," Nauvoo Mayor John McCarty said. "When you take that away, the state allows it to go retroactive back. So we really got caught with a year gap in there. So we ended up having to get our money that we asked for and the school and the fire department and all of them from $4.5 million, basically less than we started out from. So that means that the taxpayers, the individual taxpayers had to pay more to make that difference up."
For some including Mayor John McCarty that increase was quite significant.
"I've heard a lot of them say anywhere from $300 to $500 more on their taxes," Mayor McCarty said. "I know mine personally was like a $400 increase."
The church responded immediately when it found out about the problem.
"The church was not happy it happened that way," McCarty said. "It was not their intention and they contacted the city and wanted to know what could be done. And after some brain storming on different ways to maybe rectify the situation, they have agreed to basically go back and try to compensate the taxpayers for the difference they had to pay."
Mayor McMarty has nothing but praise for the way the Church took action to fix this unexpected problem.
"The church has always been open to help," McCarty said. "They know they impact the town quite a bit. I mean we have to basically do a lot more to accommodate the tourists. I knew they were going to do it. I don't think they wanted to do it this way because they had it all planned out and ready and everybody else was on board with it too. But they stepped up to the plate and they're going to make things right."
Based on a percentage formula, the checks have ranged between $40 and $200.
The Nauvoo City Council will officially vote on the pilot program on August 13th.
If approved it will run for 5 years.