Elgin OKs budget, which includes return of Civic Center Plaza ice rink
The Elgin City Council approved next year's $274.3 million budget on Wednesday night and gave the green light to a renovation of Civic Center Plaza that will allow the ice rink to be set up there again in winter 2020.
The ice rink is not being set up this winter so underground construction work at the plaza can start as soon as possible.
The council examined three different renovation options and chose the most expensive one, totaling an estimated $2.1 million. That includes $1.76 million for renovations -- decorative pavers, landscaping, artwork and more -- and $355,000 for the ice rink and warming shelter in the southern end of the plaza. The other two options would have cost $100,000 less; the final project cost will be determined once construction bids come in.
A majority of council members -- Corey Dixon, Terry Gavin, Baldemar Lopez, John Steffen, Tish Powell and Mayor David Kaptain -- voted in favor of the plan, saying it will allow maximum visibility and proximity to parking.
Councilmembers Toby Shaw, Carol Rauschenberger and Rose Martinez voted "no" saying they preferred one of the other alternatives.
The $274.3 million budget for 2020 also includes no increase to the property tax levy and an average $2.85 monthly increase for water and sewer services.
The city's fiscal year starts Jan. 1. The council unanimously approved the 2020 budget on Wednesday, which represents a 2.5% increase from the current $267.6 million budget.
City council members asked for one item to be added to the budget proposed by City Manager Rick Kozal: $50,000 to study the feasibility of adding restrooms to the first floor of the Hemmens Cultural Center. The restrooms are in the basement and patrons have asked for that change for years.
If the city council decides to move forward with any work to the Hemmens, that would be part of the 2021 budget, Assistant City Manager Laura Valdez said.
The 2020 general fund budget, which pays for day-to-day operations, is $127.2 million, up 4.8% from $121.4 million in this year's budget. The increase stems mostly from salaries and pensions and is partially offset by a decrease in health insurance premiums.
The city plans to add several positions: two utility workers, two code compliance officers, two 911 operators, four part-time auxiliary police officers, an engineering inspector, a GIS information specialist, two part-time forestry workers, and a full-time equivalent position in marketing and communications, officials said.
That will bring to about 780 the number of full-time equivalent positions in the city, which hit a high of 813.75 in 2008, city data shows.