Arlington Heights is starting the budget process for fiscal year 2014-2015 with the first in a series of public meetings on Wednesday.
The village board will discuss each part of the budget over the course of four meetings throughout March before the new fiscal year begins on May 1.
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The proposed village budget of $154.55 million represents a 3.4 percent decrease from the current year, according to a news release.
Officials attribute the decrease to a refinancing of debt service bonds, one-time expenses for fire department vehicles and a large capital improvement project at Northwest Highway/Davis Street/Arthur Avenue that were in the 2013-2014 budget.
The village board's review of the proposed budget will take place at four public meetings scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on the third floor of Village Hall, 33 S. Arlington Heights Road.
The first meeting, on March 5, will go over the budget lines for the village board, village manager, human resources, legal, finance and information technology departments.
A meeting on Monday, March 10 will discuss the budgets for the Arlington Heights Memorial Library, the Building and Health Services Department and the Metropolis Theater -- a topic that has been contentious among the board and the community in the past.
The Thursday, March 13 meeting will discuss budgets for the engineering, public works, water and sewer, parking operations and fleet services departments.
The final budget meeting on Wednesday, March 19 will discuss budgets for all of the village's boards and commissions, fire, police and the planning & community development departments, as well as any carry-over items from prior meetings.
A public hearing on the FY2014-15 budget is scheduled for April 7. The budget will be voted on by the village board either that night or at the next meeting on April 21.
There are no new staff reductions in the proposed budget, but the village still is operating at a reduced level or a 10 percent decrease since FY 2009, according to the document.
Capital projects in the proposed budget include $3.5 million for street resurfacing, $2.1 million for street rehabilitation or reconstruction of deteriorated streets, and $3.3 million for the removal and replacement of parkway ash trees affected by Emerald Ash Borer. The EAB expense is part of a multiyear item that is expected to cost the village $11.5 million to remove and replace about 13,000 ash trees throughout the village.
An additional $750,000 is included in the budget for preliminary architectural costs related to planning and designing a new village police station, which is expected to be a multiyear, multimillion-dollar project for Arlington Heights. The existing headquarters was built in 1979 and village officials said it has deteriorated beyond adequate use.
The budget also includes $75,000 for a new village website to replace the current one that was launched in 2009.
An unknown factor in the budget, similar to previous years, is whether the state legislature will approve a gambling expansion that would bring slot machines to Arlington Racetrack.
According to the proposed budget, Arlington Heights would expect to bring in $3 million per year in fees from slots at the track, money that would be used mostly to help stabilize the village's pension funds.
The proposed budget can be viewed online at http://www.vah.com/assets/1/finance_department/PROPOSED_FY2015_Budget.pdf.