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Article updated: 4/26/2013 8:05 PM

Increased revenue, less expenses help in Libertyville budget process

By Mick Zawislak

Balancing the budget in Libertyville for the fiscal year beginning May 1 was easier than in past years, officials said.

The credit goes to higher-than-expected revenues and lower-than-expected expenses that gave village trustees room to maneuver.

As approved this week, the budget includes $56.6 million in revenue and $52.3 million in expenses. Both are up substantially from last year.

Revenues jumped by about 23 percent because of bond issues to borrow $9.3 million for road and other utility projects. Similarly, spending will be up more than 20 percent over the last budget as more than $8.8 million will be spent on the first of a multiyear road improvement program and associated sewer and water projects.

Village officials also were able to eliminate the remaining tax on natural gas, one of three tax increases approved a few years ago.

"It was very exciting to get rid of the gas utility tax," Trustee Jim Moran said. "I hope in the next year or two, we can get rid of the electric tax."

Part of the reason for the breathing room is an increase in sales tax revenue. Projections for 2013-14 are about $6.2 million, up nearly 6 percent from a year ago but below the benchmark $7.8 million collected in 2001.

Savings envisioned in 2013-14 include: $140,000 by contracting emergency dispatch services to Vernon Hills; $80,000 by privatizing the Libertyville golf course; and, $100,000 in energy efficiencies.

Officials are more optimistic than in past years because revenues are up and past cuts have improved the financial picture. They remain guarded about potential state actions that could affect the bottom line.

"I can't credit our staff enough," said Trustee Rich Moras, who chairs the village board's finance committee. "It was a lot of their efficiencies, improvements and figuring out how to get the job done with less resources."

Reserves are being replenished after several years of use to pay principal and interest on bonds to build the Libertyville Sports Complex. The general fund is projected to have a $1 million surplus. Part of that may be used to retire a portion of the sports complex debt. But payments on those bonds are set to grow by $700,000, a consideration for the next budget process.

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