Proposed budget cuts raise sustainability questions in Naperville

 
 
Updated 10/27/2015 9:33 AM

Naperville City Council members aren't convinced some of the roughly $1.8 million in budget cuts proposed by administrators for next year will be sustainable over the long haul.

Council members on Monday night were especially uncertain about a proposal to save roughly $700,000 by having the city lease vehicles instead of buying them. Mayor Steve Chirico and others questioned whether that move would create true long-term savings.

 

"All of the $1.8 million is supposed to be sustainable, so year after year we will see the savings or fees," Chirico said about the amount city staff members have been asked to cut to fill an operating budget gap.

"I feel like that (leasing vehicles) is taking on debt and spreading it out instead of taking on cuts," he said.

Leasing the two most expensive of 21 vehicles proposed to be replaced next year -- a fire engine and a sewer cleaner vacuum truck -- is projected to cost $1 million next year instead of $1.7 million, Finance Director Rachel Mayer said. Additional savings will come on maintenance costs.

Instead of having city crews conduct in-house maintenance, Mayer said the dealer will service leased vehicles and provide a loaner so there won't be outages.

The potential vehicle leases are two of 12 proposed cuts that amount to the $1.8 million needed to fill a budget gap that remains in the city's next spending plan, even after council members voted in September to bring in about $5 million in increased garbage fees and $8.5 million from a 0.5 percent home-rule sales tax to be charged starting in January.

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Other proposed budget cuts include:

• Reducing police overtime by $200,000.

• Buying $160,000 less in public safety supplies.

• Reducing insurance, dues and subscription costs for the mayor and city council by $130,000.

• Reducing community development block grant projects by $128,000.

• Eliminating the accessibility coordinator in the city manager's office for $107,000.

• Switching the assistant legal director to a part-time prosecutor in the legal department for $42,500.

• Saving $40,000 on contract accounting services.

• Reducing applicant tracking software costs for human resources by $20,000.

• Renting copy machines and paying per copy instead of buying the machines to save $17,000.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

• Paying $2,500 less in advertising contracts to provide notice about public meetings.

Council members began reviewing those proposed cuts along with spending plans from most city departments during a workshop Monday. Future workshops before a vote on next year's budget in December will focus on budgets of the electric utility, the Naperville Public Library, the Naper Settlement, the water and wastewater fund and outside agencies including social service providers and Naperville Community TV.

Aside from the $1.8 million budget gap, staff members also projected the city will receive $1.4 million less in revenue than it did last year because of declining use of landline phones and lower-cost gasoline.

Since telecommunications and motor fuel taxes are expected to continue bringing in less money, Chirico said the city needs to keep finding other cuts.

Projected decreases next year to account for the lower tax revenue include spending $100,000 less in operating supplies for the police and fire departments, providing $250,000 less in social services grants and allocating $550,000 less for maintenance of infrastructure and assets.

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