Millions for Des Plaines police station expansion included in city budget; work to start in March

Money for a long-awaited police station expansion and for buying more flood-prone homes is included in Des Plaines' $174.1 million municipal budget for 2023.

Aldermen approved the spending plan Monday. The new fiscal year starts Jan. 1.

Total projected expenses are up about $2.9 million, or nearly 2%, from the current year's $171.2 million projection. Total expenses are rising because operational costs in several funds are going up, said Dorothy Wisniewski, the finance director and assistant city manager.

The new budget sets aside $14.7 million for the police station project, which calls for a two-story addition on the west side of the Miner Street building.

New jail cells, an area for patrol officers, a roll call room and other amenities are coming.

The project was authorized in 2020 but was put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Work now is set to start in March and should be complete by June 2024, Wisniewski said.

The budget also includes $6.9 million to buy more homes in flood-prone areas on the west side of the Des Plaines River, an ongoing project.

"We plan to purchase 19 homes in 2023 and 18 in 2024 with the approved budget amount," Wisniewski said.

The money is coming from a federal grant program. The city has bought 87 properties over six years so far, Wisniewski said.

The budget includes $13.9 million for various street, alley, sewer and traffic improvements, too.

As for revenue, officials expect to collect nearly $135.6 million next year from taxes, fees and other sources. That's down about $4.3 million, or 3%, from the current year's $139.9 million revenue estimate.

Revenues are projected to decrease in 2023 in part because officials expect to get less grant funding than in 2022, Wisniewski said.

In addition, officials are being conservative with gambling revenue estimates from Rivers Casino and other sources, Wisniewski said. Officials expect to collect more than $21.6 million in gambling taxes in the new year, documents indicate.

The city's revenue from motor fuel taxes should be smaller in 2023 than 2022, too, Wisniewski said.

Most of the roughly $38.5 million gap between budgeted expenses and revenue is attributable to capital projects that will be covered by fund balances or other savings. Cash for such projects totals $35.4 million, documents indicate.

The city's tax levy will not increase in 2023, officials said.

"I'm glad that we can deliver a budget to the people that does not raise their property taxes but fully funds public safety (and) funds dramatic capital improvement projects that will benefit the lives of Des Plaines residents from the 1st Ward to the 8th," Mayor Andrew Goczkowski said before the council's unanimous vote.

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