Creating Bartlett budget proves difficult

Some tough decisions will continue to be made in the coming weeks as the Bartlett village board prepares to vote in April on a budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year.

In the past month, the board has met three times as a committee to discuss the proposed budget, in which expenditures have been cut by less than 1 percent from this year’s budget.

Village officials said the proposed budget is balanced, with total expenditures around $48.5 million for all funds and purposes. Operating expenditures are cut by slightly more than 1 percent, to about $37 million, while revenue is increasing by about 3.5 percent.

The budget does not include any new taxes, but officials are considering doubling the cost of vehicle stickers to bring in $300,000 more in revenue. Trustee Frank Napolitano said he would strongly oppose increasing the cost of stickers.

The departments of public works and public safety account for the largest amount of expenditures, with around $13.8 million and $12 million respectively.

Local property taxes account for 20 percent of the village’s total revenue and are budgeted to bring in about $9.3 million, which is an increase of less than 1 percent from last year.

Other taxes, including income, sales, local use and telecommunications taxes, make up another 30 percent of the village’s total revenue.

Despite expectations for an increase in revenue for 2012-13, the village has faced major revenue reductions — about 17 percent since 2007-08 — that affect how officials construct a budget today.

Those reductions come from categories such as building permits, which have decreased around 60 percent from the 2007-08 fiscal year to the 2012-13 proposed budget, and sales taxes, which are budgeted to bring in $1.9 million for 2012-13, compared to more than $2.1 million in 2007-08.

When Village Administrator Valerie Salmons first presented the board with the proposed budget, she commended the board for being fiscally conservative in recent years. In the past three fiscal years, the board cut $2.5 million from staff’s requests and the staff underspent those cut budgets by $1.9 million.

But because they have been so conservative in recent years, members of the village board and staff said that this budget is one of the most difficult they have ever had to make.

Trustee Dennis Nolan said the most critical part of this budget is considering where the “level of service” will be for residents if cuts are made or if additional funding isn’t set aside for various problems.

He also urged the board to be considerate of the morale of village staff members.

At a meeting on March 13, each department head explained what their plans are with the 2012-13 budget and where they felt they needed funds. Each one made mention of the struggles they face with employees who will not be replaced with the new budget.

A couple of budget concerns that have been brought up at recent meetings include whether to spend about $28,000 for enhanced computer technology, and whether to continue donating $12,000 to a Meals on Wheels program that serves 35 residents.

Some of those issues may be voted upon separately when the board decides whether to approve the budget.

Other items of interest in the proposed budget include a 25 percent increase for tree trimming because of costs associated with removing trees that are infested by the emerald ash borer, and setting aside about $40,000 to replace carpeting and make enhancements to the clubhouse foyer at the village-owned Bartlett Hills Country Club.

The board will continue the discussion of the budget at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 3 at village hall, 228 S. Main St. A budget must be adopted no later than May 1.

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