Officials began talks on the second city budget in a row that includes no property tax increase during Tuesday night’s budget hearing.
City council members began the meeting by reiterating their priorities for 2012: flood mitigation, infrastructure updates and downtown beautification.
Although this year’s proposed budget has no tax increases, officials expressed concern about Des Plaines’ “significant debt”—$63.5 million.
Dorothy Wisniewski, finance director, told council members state legislation might severely cut funding, which would require the city’s budget to be reformulated.
Overall, the city’s financial situation has improved in the past several years, said Matt Bogusz, third ward alderman.
Over the course of the past three years the city eliminated numerous positions and combined several departments to streamline city processes and services, said Jason Slowinski, acting city manager.
Revenues for the 2012 budget are expected to increase 17 percent from the 2011 budget, primarily due to an influx of revenue from the casino.
Overall expenditures will also increase relative to the 2011 budget, almost exclusively because of the city’s financial obligations to Midwest Gaming and investment in downtown projects including sidewalk replacement.
City officials discussed potential ideas for next year’s budget:
- A $25,000 city survey would give officials data on how city services are performing and what feedback residents have. An outside consulting firm would conduct the study. Dick Sayad, fourth ward alderman, said he did not support the idea.
- The may get funding for it operations and programming. In the 2010 budget, the group’s funding was cut from $160,000 to $40,000, and then again in 2011 when the organization received $30,000. More than half of the staff positions have been cut, and . City officials said the historical society needed to ramp up its fundraising efforts and look into selling property to help solve its financial woes. Aldermen were split on the issue.
- Officials also might make the Home Generator Reimbursement Program permanent. Council members discussed whether to add from $30,000 to $50,000 to the program’s fund, or scrap the program entirely. The discussion was tabled.
- Michael Bartholomew, director of community and economic development, recommended creating a new, full-time city position that would foster in the community. Duties would include working with local businesses in Des Plaines to tell them about incentive programs available and bring new businesses to Des Plaines. Mayor Martin Moylan said similar positions existed in the past, and suggested the work to be completed on a contract-basis.
The third and final budget hearing will be Oct. 20 at 7 pm in City Hall.