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updated: 10/9/2012 8:34 PM

Des Plaines to begin 2013 budget review

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Des Plaines aldermen next week will begin reviewing the city's proposed $127 million budget for expenditures in 2013, which includes a zero percent increase to the property tax levy extension from last year.

Budget hearings will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 17, Thursday, Oct. 18, and Tuesday, Oct. 30, at City Hall, 1420 Miner St. The budget will be adopted in November.

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The proposed 2013 budget represents a $14.5 million increase -- roughly 13 percent -- over the 2012 budget, a large portion of which is related to infrastructure projects, including a $3.7 million increase in spending for capital projects, a $2 million increase in water/sewer expenses, and a $1.5 million increase in additional equipment and vehicle purchases, according to City Manager Mike Bartholomew's budget overview memo.

Officials also anticipate spending $1 million more next year to fulfill the city's obligations toward revenue sharing, under the business development agreement with Midwest Gaming.

Operating expenditures for 2013 amount to $58 million -- a $2.3 million increase over the 2012 budget -- while revenues are estimated at $58.4 million.

Among the big ticket items within general fund expenditures is $395,000 for upgrading the City Council chambers, which includes replacing ceiling speakers, carpeting, video and audio equipment, remodeling and upgrading the lighting system.

Officials also have transferred $3.3 million in gambling tax revenue from the Rivers Casino into the capital projects fund.

"Part of that, $1.2 million, is being proposed for a debt payoff in the capital projects fund" per the casino revenue spending policy approved by the city council earlier this year, City Finance Director Dorothy Wisniewski said.

The city issued bonds in 2004 for streets improvements, which is callable at this time and could either be refinanced or paid off, Wisniewski said.

"It will alleviate a $175,000 payment every year that the capital projects fund makes on that debt," she added.

The remaining $2.1 million of gambling tax revenue in that fund could be used for additional capital projects, such as accelerating the stormwater management master plan or advancing the five-year Capital Improvements Plan to improve alleys, the drainage system and streets, Wisniewski said.

"You would be addressing a lot more infrastructure improvements in town utilizing that money," she said.

Also included in the proposed 2013 budget are replacing sidewalks, installing irrigated landscaping and streetlights within the downtown tax increment financing district, or TIF No. 1, for roughly $2.7 million, and $2 million for bridge and water main improvements in TIF No. 6 along Mannheim and Higgins roads.

"However, that money will not be spent unless we have a developer in hand (for TIF 6)," Wisniewski said.

The proposed 2013 budget includes a $1.7 million increase from 2012 in revenue from water fees, due to Chicago's water rate hike.

The city also is projecting receiving more gambling tax revenue this year to make its first full $10 million payment to the state by March 1, 2013, as part of the deal that landed Des Plaines the 10th riverboat casino license.

The city is anticipating receiving nearly $21 million in gambling tax revenues this year. The projected revenue for 2013 is roughly $19 million, Wisniewski said.

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