I am working on a long-term plan for fiscal sustainability of the Village through the top two priorities of cutting expenses and growing our economy. (read more)
I was pleased to pass this year's budget, along with a majority of the Board of Trustees, as a sign of the great improvements we have made since the downturn in the economy. (read more)
One thing the downturn in the economy has shown me and many of the mayors in the Chicagoland area is that we can't keep delivering services the same way we always have. (read more)
One of the first solutions Roselle implemented as we faced our new financial circumstances was to consolidate our dispatch operations with several other communities by joining DuComm, a consolidated dispatch service. Not only did we initially save $500,000 in the first year, we have a yearly savings of $250,000 over keeping this function in house. (read more)
Sustainable public pensions are a statewide issue impacting every community level of local government in Illinois. Our police officers and firefighters are wonderful employees and do a vital job in protecting the residents and businesses in Roselle. But the fact is that we cannot afford the level of benefits the state has granted. (read more)
I am working on a long-term plan for fiscal sustainability of the Village through the top two priorities of cutting expenses and growing our economy.
For the last three years, we have concentrated on cutting—making sure we have a right-sized government—by studying each of our departments with an outside expert. This was a recommendation from the Finance sub-committee of the Village Board comprised of trustees Andy Maglio and Terrence Wittman. We completed the studies for Administration, Finance, Community Development and Fire. In 2013, I will advocate completion the studies for Police and Public Works.
Professional and independent recommendations allowed us to trim our staff from 115 full-time personnel to 94 – a 20% reduction. We achieved some reductions by contracting out services (joining DuComm, which is a combined police and fire dispatch service in DuPage County); some through attrition and some through eliminating positions. While eliminating positions were not easy decisions, I believe it was the responsible way to address handling our financial challenges.
Cutting is not the complete answer. I believe we need to work on growing our economy through a strong economic development program. There is not consensus on the Board to implement this program and I am hoping that will change with the upcoming election. Each new restaurant we bring into the Village adds $50,000-$100,000 a year to our general fund revenues.
An independent assessment of our potential shows we have great redevelopment opportunities at Nerge and Roselle Rds., and on the south side of Gary and Lake. The latter area is currently in unincorporated DuPage, but I am working a voluntary annexation plan and see growth here as our future. We were forward thinking when the Cornerstone Development, across the street was under construction, and brought our water lines to the south side of Lake, in anticipation for this future development.
I believe we must finish right-sizing our Village operations and have a strong economic development plan in place as part of our sustainability plan. Only then can we assess whether we should ask voters for any increases in revenue to sustain our quality of life. And that decision should be in the voters' hands.
I was pleased to pass this year's budget, along with a majority of the Board of Trustees, as a sign of the great improvements we have made since the downturn in the economy.
While a budget is our educated guess on revenues and expenditures, four years ago we knew we faced a $1 million shortfall in our operating fund and have worked each year in a deliberative, thoughtful manner to reduce that shortfall. While a major component of our revenues is property taxes, that amount--$4.8 million—doesn't cover the cost of even providing our police services. We also rely on state income tax, sales tax, fines, vehicle stickers and building permits, etc.
I am pleased that out of a $14 million operating budget, with $3 million in reserves, we predict a $56,000 shortfall this year, partially because of a unanimous decision by the Board of Trustees to include another study of Village services in either Police or Public Works. That reflects only 0.4% of the total budget.
While we could have easily passed a budget that was “balanced” by increasing revenue figures, I don't play those games. There is no law that says we have to have a balanced budget; I believe we presented our best predications on what we will take in and what we will expend. Since I know we traditionally budget revenues and expenditures conservatively, I am comfortable passing this spending plan and anticipate we will end 2013 in the black. Remember, we have $3 million in reserves as a cushion. Our excellent bond rating reflects that the financial markets retain confidence in how we handle our finances.
Our 2013 budget includes our annual street improvement program, storm water projects and the consistent delivery of the services you expect and deserve.
One thing the downturn in the economy has shown me and many of the mayors in the Chicagoland area is that we can't keep delivering services the same way we always have. I have always practiced and supported mutual cooperation with the other taxing bodies in Roselle. After all, we share the same constituents. This co-operation resulted in the bike paths we have throughout our community, lending equipment when a park district or a school district needs a helping hand and, just recently, the selling of some land to the Medinah Park District.
We learned the Village owned a small strip of land adjacent to a public park near Roselle's Springhill apartments. We did not know we owned it and had never maintained it. However, in their plan to improve and expand their adjacent park, the Medinah Park District discovered this land belonged to the Village and asked if would be willing to deed it over to them. This piece of property would allow them to build a handicapped accessible entrance to the park and expand the park itself.
Even though this is a project of the Medinah Park District, the park is in the Village and used by Roselle residents. Helping them only made common sense. While some Board members voted against it, the majority of the Board made it a reality. That is cooperation at its best.
One of the first solutions Roselle implemented as we faced our new financial circumstances was to consolidate our dispatch operations with several other communities by joining DuComm, a consolidated dispatch service. Not only did we initially save $500,000 in the first year, we have a yearly savings of $250,000 over keeping this function in house. An added bonus is that there are numerous dispatchers working at any given time, so one can stay on the phone with you and help you until the paramedics, police or fire department arrives. That wasn't possible when we did the dispatching ourselves.
Successes like these are why I am honored to chair the Service Delivery Task Force of the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus. We explore ways that communities can share functions with their neighbors, all the way up to consolidating service delivery. I believe the area mayors are leading by example and reinventing the way we deliver services to our residents.
STATE & REGIONAL ISSUES
Sustainable public pensions are a statewide issue impacting every community level of local government in Illinois.
Our police officers and firefighters are wonderful employees and do a vital job in protecting the residents and businesses in Roselle. But the fact is that we cannot afford the level of benefits the state has granted.
As Mayor of Roselle, I have been on the forefront of public safety pension issues for almost 8 years now. I am not happy that the State Legislature placed me and the mayors from all over the State, in this position by granting increases in pension benefits without any recognition of what it would cost to provide them. It is not a comfortable or pleasant place to be.
Here are two important facts:
• Every year we collect only about $150,000 more than the previous year in property taxes
• Our increased pension contributions in 2014 will be $300,000. That doesn't take into account the normal increased costs from salary raises, health care, and the commodities we need to run the Village.
Where do we get the extra money? What other things might we have to cut to take care of our obligations? Unfortunately, the only way we can get relief is through action by the General Assembly. I believe that any solution has to be a collaborative effort between municipalities, union representation and members of the state legislature. I will continue to work on this issue because it is a key factor in the fiscal sustainability of our Village for the long-term.