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updated: 12/4/2016 5:21 PM

Naperville eyes $441 million spending plan

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The cost of living in Naperville increased this year with higher garbage fees, electric rates and a new sales tax.

But next year, at least one expense the city controls is expected to stay roughly the same.

The city plans to levy the same amount of property taxes it collected this year -- $46.1 million -- to support a proposed budget of $441 million, Finance Director Rachel Mayer said.

So for the owner of a $410,000 house -- the average in Naperville -- the city's portion of the property tax bill will be about $850, Mayer said, close to what they paid this year.

As the city council progressed through a month of budget hearings, members made it clear they didn't want the property tax levy to go up, despite an additional $2 million owed in police and fire pensions.

The result is a spending plan that makes $3 million in cuts and uses revenue from the new sales tax and the food and beverage tax to help cover pension payments. The $441 million in proposed spending is balanced with $446 million in projected revenue.

The city council is set to vote on the budget during its meeting at 7 p.m. Monday in the municipal center at 400 S. Eagle St. At the following meeting on Dec. 20, the panel is scheduled to set the tax levy.

Here's a look at what is changing to keep the levy flat.

Less spending

Staff members cut departmental budgets by roughly $863,000, shaving costs such as overtime, contracted services, supplies, software and vehicles.

The finance department eliminated the equivalent of 1.5 full-time positions, which contributed $150,000 to the savings. And the transportation, engineering and development department delayed $1 million of work in its road maintenance program.

"Based on the evaluation, they're in better shape than we had anticipated, so we delayed replacement for another year," Mayer said about the roads, curbs and gutters that won't be redone in 2017.

Other cuts to capital spending include $560,000 less in software and a combined $475,000 savings from delaying replacement of overhead doors and alerting systems at Naperville's 10 fire stations.

Lowering debt

The city set three financial principles last year and one of them aims to lower its $120 million in debt by 25 percent by 2023.

City Manager Doug Krieger said the 2017 budget is a step in the right direction because the city will be taking on fewer new loans than it will be paying off.

The budget calls for repaying about $13.5 million and borrowing a new $7.7 million for capital projects, bringing debt at the end of the year to roughly $116.4 million.

Preparing for future

Much of the city's infrastructure spending won't create visible changes to roads or bridges just yet, but Mayer and Krieger say it will be a year of preparation to keep projects on track.

Two such projects will focus on land acquisition and preliminary work for road improvements on the southwest side of town -- one at 95th Street and the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway that's set to cost $2.3 million and another along 91st Street for which $1.3 million is budgeted.

"With the expansion out there, we need to invest in the south side," city spokeswoman Linda LaCloche said.

Other notable projects include furniture and carpet replacement at the 95th Street Library as part of $3 million budgeted for library improvements; $167,000 worth of accessibility renovations at city buildings; and $173,000 worth of improvements to the elevator and structure at Moser Tower, home of the Millennium Carillon.

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