CALUMET CITY | The City Council has approved its property tax levy for 2014, while it also continues the hiring process for a new economic development director.

Aldermen voted 6-0, with 4th Ward Alderman Ramonde Williams abstaining, for a tax levy meant to raise $28.15 million for city government, although $4.9 million of that will be to cover debt service for 2013.

That means the city is asking for $23.25 million from local taxpayers to maintain the daily operations of city government — compared to the $22.95 million they sought last year. City officials have said previously the total increase is less than 1 percent, and that Calumet City property owners should not see a significant increase in their bills from their municipal portion.

Elementary and high school districts, along with the Calumet Memorial Park District, also have their own tax levies, although those government entities also have said they’re making efforts to avoid levy increases for next year’s tax bills.

The tax levy was approved by aldermen with little discussion, although the City Council recessed its meeting for about 10 minutes while city Finance Director John Kasperek answered questions from 7th Ward Alderman Antoine Collins.

While aldermen were able to move forward with a tax levy, they still have a vacancy for someone to run the city’s Community and Economic Development Department.

City housing Director James Gigliotti used to do the economic development duties along with his current job. But he was shifted to being a full-time housing director in July, and the City Council hired a consultant in September to help them conduct a national search for an economic development director.

On Tuesday and again on Thursday prior to the City Council meeting, aldermen met in closed session along with consultant Heidi Voorhees, who brought prospective candidates for the job before the council.

City officials previously had said they hoped to have a new director in place by November. On Thursday, they would not say if the interview process was far enough along that a director could be hired by the City Council some time during December.

Although when aldermen ended their interviews Thursday so they could conduct a City Council session, 3rd Ward Alderman Thaddeus Jones said of the process, “We’ve got six more hours to go.”

Jeanette is a journalist with The Times Media Co. who has worked as both a reporter and editor. She has a master's degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield.