Wheeling's new $97.4M budget includes money for fire station

Wheeling's new $97.4 million annual budget includes cash for a fire station that's already under construction, street improvements and other projects.

The village board unanimously approved the spending plan Monday night in a meeting held remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new fiscal year starts Jan. 1.

The budget is about $2.8 million greater than the current year's roughly $94.6 million plan, an increase of nearly 3%.

Village Manager Jon Sfondilis attributed the increase to spending on capital projects and other factors.

The budget includes:

• $3.4 million for the new fire station at 780 S. Wheeling Road, a project with a $5.1 million total price tag.

• More than $2.1 million for street projects.

• More than $3 million for water main replacements throughout town.

On the other side of the ledger, officials predict they'll collect about $89.7 million in revenue from property taxes, fees and other sources in the next fiscal year. That's nearly 4% greater than the current year's estimate of nearly $86.3 million.

As is the case in many suburbs, revenue in the village's general fund is expected to be lower than usual in 2021 because of how the COVID-19 crisis affected sales tax revenue, fees and other income streams, Sfondilis said.

But the pending opening of the village's first cannabis dispensary should boost revenue, Sfondilis said. That store is expected to open at 1500 E. Lake-Cook Road in early 2021, and the anticipated tax revenue isn't included in the budget, Finance Director Michael Mondschain told the board.

Rising property values in the village's tax increment financing districts should bring in extra money, too, Sfondilis said, thanks to tax assessments on the relatively new Town Center development and other projects.

"Tax increment financing fund revenue will increase substantially next year," Sfondilis said.

Still, officials expect the general fund will have a roughly $1.6 million deficit in 2021, documents indicate. Reserves will cover the difference, Sfondilis said.

All funds are balanced or relying on reserves as planned to cover assorted capital improvements or programs, documents indicate.

To help offset that spending imbalance, some open staff positions will remain unfilled, Sfondilis said.

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  Crews are building a new fire station on Wheeling Road north of Hintz Road in Wheeling. Money for the project is included in the village's new annual budget. Russell Lissau/
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