Mayor: Itasca finances 'returning to normalcy'
Past tough decisions mean projects to proceed
After years of budget cuts and conservative spending in Itasca, Village President Jeff Pruyn said Monday he believes the village is "in the process of returning to normalcy."
During the annual Shape of Itasca address that attracted roughly 100 residents, Pruyn spoke with elected heads of the library, park district and fire protection district about progress the village has made since last May.
"We made adjustments by making tough decisions," Pruyn said, adding the village was affected by the recession, falling sales tax revenues and the state budget crisis over the last four years. "I am pleased to say it seems we are on the road to financial recovery."
To adjust, Itasca cut 18 full-time posts or 20 percent of its workforce, delayed capital projects like roadwork and replacing village vehicles, outsourced some tasks, and dipped into reserves. But on Monday, Pruyn said revenues are rebounding, so road and stormwater projects will be a top priority.
Funding for road projects will jump from the $400,000 spent last year to $760,000 this year, including upgrades on North Street and Arlington Heights Road.
Itasca is seeing other improvements as sales tax revenues rebound, Pruyn said, including a replenishing of the village's reserves. Itasca aims to keep six months of reserves, or about $6 million, and has now returned to nearly $5 million after borrowing from it in recent years.
Part of the rebound is due to Itasca's efforts to market its hotels, a major sales tax revenue source, by partnering with several convention bureaus and launching its Chamber of Commerce in recent years. Pruyn said village leaders will continue to look into more partnerships that could boost business.
Other accomplishments Pruyn highlighted Monday:
• This spring, voters approved a measure to allow the village to broker electric services, bringing costs down to roughly 4.6 cents per kilowatt hour from about 7.7 cents, saving an average of $275 annually for the average Itasca household or small business.
• This spring Itasca's completed its new $34 million wastewater treatment plant on Prospect Avenue.
• Itasca is also planning for a $1.3 million stormwater project that will reduce flooding on the north side of the village.
• Itasca continues to provide free garbage service, yard waste and brush pickup at a cost of $800,000 per year.
Although Pruyn expressed optimism about Itasca's fiscal future, he told residents the recovery is delicate and hinges on forces greater than just village frugality.
"Our greatest threats are the state of Illinois and its massive deficit, as well as the health of the greater economy," he said.