The Oak Park village board was presented with a balanced budget for next year on Monday night, a plan which eradicates a $1.7 million deficit in 2011. But trustees will need to figure out in the coming weeks whether they're on board with the cuts and tax increases used to fill the hole.
Village staff was able to make the numbers line up by keeping a handful of positions vacant in 2011 to save about $1 million, said Chief Financial Officer Craig Lesner. Oak Park bridged the rest of the gap through a number of maneuvers, including upping its revenue projections and cutting back on landscaping planters around town.
The village is not eyeing any layoffs next year, having already trimmed about 70 positions over the past three years. However, Oak Park is currently proposing to raise some parking fees, the water rate and its share of property tax bills.
Water rates are expected to increase modestly, by about 2.5 percent next year, to account for any increases put forward by the City of Chicago. Quarterly parking permits are proposed to go up by an average of $9 in 2011. And people who want to park in garages for 10 hours will pay an extra $2, or an extra $5 if they stay for the maximum time allowed.
Those changes to parking rates will deposit another $250,000 into village coffers.
Oak Park is also proposing to raise its portion of property taxes by about 3 percent, or $871,778. The majority of those extra dollars will go toward increased contributions to the police and fire pension funds.
The village is upping what it levies for police and fire pensions by 12.56 percent. Trustees urged village staff to come up with a plan to address the skyrocketing line item in the budget.
"If this doesn't change, it will bankrupt our village," said Trustee Colette Lueck.
Overall expenses for the village are projected to increase by 2.4 percent, year to year, from $122.4 million to $125.3 million in 2011. Lesner said various factors led to the increased expenses, including more than $4 million in the spending plan to redo Roosevelt Road and six years worth of salary raises for Oak Park firefighters, after they settled their contract earlier this year.
Several local nonprofits who receive money from the village will not see cuts in 2011, after the village slashed its contributions to those organizations over the last few years.
Oak Park had originally planned to dip into its projected fund balance of $2.2 million in order to close the deficit, but trustees balked at that idea and asked staff to find savings elsewhere.
Trustees will discuss the proposed budget in the coming weeks, and are tentatively scheduled to adopt it on Nov. 15. Residents can view the financial plan and comment on it by going to http://www.oak-park.us/Finance/Finance.html.
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