Burr Ridge’s road repair program looks to move ahead despite budget battle

Burr Ridge appears to have a budget deal in place, although it may not be a unanimous vote when the village’s financial road map for 2014-15 is voted on Monday.

A budget workshop Wednesday brought several cost-cutting and revenue-enhancing proposals the Village Board will address as it tackles future budgets. The workshop seemed to quiet some board members’ concerns that the village is not doing enough to avoid future deficits. The 2016-17 budget, for example, is projected to have a $854,225 deficit.

A contentious April 14 meeting had board members split 3-3 on the budget because of the future deficits that are projected to eat up $2.3 million of the village’s cash reserves between 2016-17 and 2018-19. Mayor Mickey Straub broke the tie, voting no on the budget at that meeting, feeling that he should not be the deciding vote on the village’s fiscal plan for the year.

Straub said he was pleased with the discussions Wednesday and said the board seems more in harmony with the budget, which needs to be passed by the end of the month to avoid a village government shutdown.

“It was nice to see us having a conservation about what we can do to balance the budget in future years,” Straub said.

The mayor said the village needs to think outside the box and find ways to bring more revenue into its coffers without turning to taxpayers. He noted the village is looking to bring a national Pontiac convention to town that could mean an additional $3 million for the local economy in just five days.

“We are not going to save our way to prosperity,” Straub said.

Diane Bolos, one of the trustees to vote against the budget at the last board meeting, said Wednesday’ she is not sure she will support the budget Monday. She said she will need to see just how much the budget moves made Wednesday impact the bottom line of future deficits.

“This has been a waste of time,” Bolos said toward the end of the workshop when it was determined that the village’s road program, the cause of $686,100 of the 2016-17 deficit, would be left as is.

Bolos had recommended deferring the road program a year.

“We are still looking at a nearly $900,000 deficit in 2016-17,” Bolos said. “I am not comfortable with this budget.”

Guy Franzese, who also voted against the budget, felt the road program needs to continue as planned. He said the $340,000 reconstruction of Garfield Avenue, planned for 2016-17, should be paid for through general fund equity because it is a one-time expense.

“I don’t agree with deferring the road program a year. That is kicking the can down the road,” Franzese said.

Village Administrator Steve Stricker said the village cannot continue to have the road program as part of the general fund without additional revenue being found. He suggested the village ask residents for approval in November 2016 to replace bonds used to bring Lake Michigan water to the village with a tax-levy increase of an equal amount to cover the road program.

The levy increase would generate $520,000 annually for the village. Sticker noted residents would continue to pay the same amount of taxes to the village, but instead of paying off the water bonds, the levy increase would pay for the road program. “There would be no increase in taxes for residents,” Stricker said.

“We could sell that to the public,” noting the money would also be used for sidewalk repairs, Stricker said. “We would not raise taxes. It is not any different than what school districts have done in the past.”

Board members were not comfortable with including that bond money in future year budgets.

Changes proposed to the 2014-15 budget discussed include:

• Adding $37,092 in revenue from a just-agreed-to lease with Verizon for an antenna on the village water tower.

• Removing Village Hall landscaping at a savings of $25,350.

• Using the village’s Hotel/Motel Fund to pay for all village concerts, saving $8,275 of general fund money.

• Reducing the wireless networks (used for subdivision cameras) from eight to four at a cost-savings of $33,260.

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