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Article posted: 12/5/2012 12:19 PM

Lombard looks to drop vehicle stickers

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If the village of Lombard's 2013 budget passes without changes, residents no longer will have to buy vehicle stickers.

The proposed $86.8 million spending plan eliminates the stickers, which would have brought $541,200 in revenue to the village next year. Even with that reduction in revenue, the budget remains balanced, as the village expects to bring in $91.4 million in 2013.

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Trustees are promoting taxpayer savings of $15 to $100 a person from vehicle sticker elimination as they prepare to vote on the budget during a board meeting at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

"The elimination of the village vehicle fee is a big win for Lombard residents," acting Village President Peter Breen said.

"There wasn't too much support for them," Trustee Keith Giagnorio said about the stickers. "If we can eliminate them and still keep our service up, I think it's a great thing."

The move would save the village $65,800 that would have been spent on buying and distributing the stickers to residents and businesses. "This year was a little bit of a philosophy change," Breen said. "We looked hard at how can we put money back into the hands of our residents."

Breen said he initiated a line-by-line review of the 2013 budget this fall to look for additional reductions in the spending plan, originally set at $87.2 million.

Aside from eliminating vehicle stickers, trustees have proposed $349,200 in savings from replacing staff members at lower salaries or with part-time employees, and cutting $15,000 from the street maintenance supplies account.

While Breen wanted to take a deeper look at the calendar year 2013 budget -- the first since Lombard approved a switch from fiscal year budgets -- some trustees said they did not believe additional review was necessary.

Trustees went over the 2013 budget and the budget for the second half of 2012 in February, hearing presentations from each department about spending and revenue plans.

Trustee Greg Gron said the finance committee, which he leads, was to be notified if staff made any significant changes to the 2013 budget between the initial review and the end of this year.

"That never happened," he said. "We saw there were no major changes."

Giagnorio also said he did not have any additional questions that would have required three more budget workshops, which were held this fall.

The 2013 budget as proposed is $13 million more than the most recent budget covering a 12-month span. Much of the increase gives additional funding to capital projects. Work including facility maintenance, street construction and lighting, and improvements to sidewalks, the water system and traffic signals is slated to cost $18 million in 2013, up from $9.5 million in the 2012 fiscal year budget.

Supporting the budget will be the village's tax levy, which is scheduled for a separate vote Thursday.

The levy is expected to increase 3.61 percent, the highest amount allowed under Illinois tax cap laws that regulate Lombard because it is a non-home rule municipality, according to Finance Director Tim Sexton.

Lombard aims to collect $8.7 million in property taxes through the levy to fund police, firefighter and municipal employee pensions, liability insurance and other public benefit projects.

If the levy is approved, Lombard homeowners can expect an increase in the village's portion of their property tax bill. Sexton said the owner of a $250,000 home would pay an extra $10.97 for a total of $483.64.

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