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updated: 11/28/2012 5:18 PM

Roselle passes 2013 budget with reduced defecit

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After more than three hours of debate on the best spending plan for Roselle's future, village officials passed a $34 million budget.

But some trustees are upset the budget's general fund, which is about roughly $14.3 million, includes a deficit of more than $56,000.

The gap will be covered by dipping into the village's roughly $3 million general fund reserve if 2013 revenues don't increase and cover the difference.

Trustees Andy Maglio, Terrence Wittman, Barbara Rendall-Hochstadt and Wayne Domke voted in favor of the budget, while trustees Kory Atkinson and Ron Baker opposed it.

During initial talks earlier this month, officials said they expected a deficit of up to $170,000 in the general fund. That's because revenues have not risen fast enough to cover increasing costs for personnel, which makes up roughly 73 percent of that fund.

But officials went line-by-line through several key items, choosing to delay spending on initiatives like a $30,000 study on whether the village should pursue another tax increment financing district.

They will revisit that and other costs roughly six months from now when they have a better idea of 2013 tax revenues.

Other items on hold include:

• $5,600 for mapping software to help police reconstruct accidents and crime scenes;

• $12,500 for software upgrades for the administration department;

• $7,465 for fire department rescue jacks and a replacement fire hose;

• $15,000 to study creation of a railroad quiet zone;

• and $35,000 to hire a consultant to expand graphic information systems data in all departments.

Officials also said they would like to discuss later in the year whether Roselle should still be funding its Code Red emergency notification system for phone land lines, which costs $10,000 annually, as well as pay another $10,000 to employ crossing guards for Waterbury School.

Wittman and Atkinson -- who are often at odds -- agreed only on Waterbury, saying Keeneyville Elementary District 20 charges higher property taxes than the village and should pay for that service.

But Atkinson said he was uncomfortable passing a budget with any deficit, and he initially convinced most other trustees to aim for no shortfall.

As deliberations continued, however, trustees who voted in favor of the budget found items they said could not be cut, such as a $25,000 study to look for ways the village can run more efficiently and ultimately save money.

Atkinson spent much of this week's meeting admonishing the board for not being more proactive in working toward fiscal sustainability.

"We are knee-jerking again," Atkinson said. "We are just going to start shuffling the cards and grasping at straws to see what we can do. The only way we can get out of this is increasing revenues or decreasing expenditures. There is no silver bullet here that is magically going to solve this budget problem, and we have no one to blame but ourselves."

But Village President Gayle Smolinski, Rendall-Hochstadt and Wittman said his thinking was inflexible, and they defended their efforts to work for Roselle's future.

"I do see us having a long-term view on everything we're doing," said Rendall-Hochstadt. "There are things we will spend money on, like studies, that will make money in the future. I believe the problems we are having are things we need to grow out of, rather than cut our way out of.

"We work really hard to give residents a soft landing in tough economic times," she said. "We've trimmed spending, cut staff and done all types of really tough things. I believe these studies will help us cut things that are wasteful. And I hope we do use a bit of reserves to fund a good future for our community and focus on economic development."

Smolinski said Roselle was facing a $1 million shortfall just three years ago, and now the village has trimmed that substantially and built reserves through layoffs, service reductions and consolidations.

Residents can review the budget at under the "documents center" tab.

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