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posted: 4/2/2013 12:01 AM

Arlington Heights OKs budget, expects small surplus this year

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Arlington Heights approved its budget for the next fiscal year starting May first and officials said they are expecting to end this year with a small surplus.

On Monday the village board unanimously approved the $145.5 million budget for fiscal year 2014 after a nearly six month process and four public meetings where officials went through each department's budget during March.

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While the next budget represents a 1.4 percent increase over this year because of increasing costs, the biggest other costs will be associated with emerald ash borer and the replacement of a 20-year-old fire truck.

Finance Director Thomas Kuehne said revenues for this year are coming in above expectations and that the village should end this fiscal year with a small surplus, though the numbers won't be final until the year is over. He said that if not for the unexpected costs of removing and replacing trees infected with emerald ash borer, the surplus would be even bigger.

Of the village's 36,000 parkways trees, 36 percent are ash trees and will need to be removed and replaced for an estimated cost of $11.5 million. The majority of that cost will be covered with a bond sale in 2014, while some has come from the general fund.

Officials called the rest of the 450-page budget a "toe the line" or maintenance budget without any major changes.

"This time last year we weren't sure what the state was going to do and this year we still aren't sure what the state is going to do and how it will effect us," Kuehne said.

No residents spoke at Monday's public hearing about the budget before the board voted to approve it.

During the budget process officials noted decreases in printing, postage and photocopying costs as the village moves to electronic communication. Those decreases are expected to continue when the village board begins using electronic packets later this year.

The budget also includes a 1.2 percent increase to the tax levy, a smaller increase than the 1.9 percent increase that was originally proposed.

Other notable parts of the budget include continuing to help fund Metropolis Performing Arts Centre as the downtown organization struggles with its finances and funding flooding studies that officials said will help alleviate issues such as what many experienced during the major rain event in the summer of 2011.

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