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updated: 11/5/2012 6:58 PM

Des Plaines completes 2013 budget review

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After three budget discussion meetings, the Des Plaines City Council will adopt a proposed $127 million budget for 2013 expenditures later this month.

The proposed budget represents a $14.5 million increase over the 2012 budget. Operating expenses for 2013 amount to $58 million -- a $2.3 million increase over the 2012 budget -- while revenues are estimated at $58.4 million.

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The city is projected to have more than $20 million in reserves -- up from roughly $1 million in 2008 -- and roughly $60 million in bonded debt, down from $102 million in 2005.

The budget also represents the third year the city has adopted a zero percent increase to the property tax levy extension from the previous year.

A big chunk of the proposed increase in the total budget is due 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.

The budget includes a $35,000 subsidy for the Des Plaines History Center, the same amount granted this year. The city's funding of the center has diminished considerably over the years. In 2010, the center was awarded a $40,000 grant, which dropped to $30,000 in 2011, officials said.

Aldermen could not agree on whether to spend $395,000 for upgrading the City Council chambers, which includes replacing ceiling speakers, carpeting, seating, video and audio equipment, remodeling and upgrading the lighting system.

City Manager Mike Bartholomew said since the council was not comfortable with doing all of the projects, he urged aldermen to approve $140,000 to be put toward general renovations according to the aldermen's priorities, such as upgrading video/audio equipment, chairs and recarpeting.

The proposed budget includes a $200,000 allocation for removing parkway trees infested with the emerald ash borer, doubling the amount the city spent in 2012 on tree trimming and stump removal.

The city is looking at spending $200,000 a year from 2013 to 2015 to combat the emerald ash borer.

The budget also includes money to flush out another kind of pest in town -- $15,000 to remove skunks whose population has been rising in the suburbs, according to officials.

Officials also are planning to replace parking fee collection machines in downtown so they can accept credit and debit cards at a cost of $68,200; and spend $200,000 to do the design work for street improvements along Ellinwood Street, with construction pushed off to 2014.

Officials also supported spending $115,000 and $95,000 respectively to install security cameras in the Metropolitan Square and Lee Street parking garages, owned by the city.

"There's no disputing that cameras do add a level of security and a level of comfort for people who are using parking structures," Police Chief William Kushner said. "However, cameras that are not monitored accomplish nothing except giving us video evidence of something that occurred."

Kushner said the city would have to examine the human resources cost of having cameras and how they are going to be monitored.

The budget will be adopted at the Nov. 13 city council meeting at City Hall, 1420 Miner St. To view a copy of the 2013 proposed budget, visit desplaines.org.

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