All the decisions were pretty much finalized. All that remained was adopting the 2008 budget, which the Oak Park village board did last Thursday.

Included were a 3-percent property tax increase (generating $300,000), 25 percent water hike ($2.06 million), 12 percent garbage removal fee increase (roughly $470,000) and a 2-cent per gallon addition to the village gas tax ($400,000)-all in an effort to close gaps in the village’s various funds.

The village was able to balance its $89 million operating budget by increasing taxes and fees together with cutting various services and positions for next year, totaling about $3.6 million.

The village is also cutting $250,000 out of the brick streets program and exploring the idea of blocks paying for the streets through special “self-taxing” services areas.

However, the village board still faces difficult choices for 2009. A $3-million deficit in the parking fund-caused by debt to build garages, costs and a lack of revenue-was remedied by a one-time payout from the on-street parking fund. Parking services, total, has a $7 million deficit for 2008 after that payment.

Right now, the general fund has a balance of $460,000, a 1-percent “rainy day” fund balance, and the board and staff must figure out a way to remedy what could likely be a deficit in the 2009 parking fund.

The board held off on proposed rate additions and increases in village garages. The parking fund is the only fund in deficit for 2008-$360,000 in the red. The board will make a decision on rates after the first quarter of 2008 when staff brings forward information on how the increases would affect businesses, as well as how similar villages deal with parking issues.

The board did approve a $5 fee at the Oak Park and River Forest High School garage for all special events. The fee will be applied on a 90-day trial basis. Staff predicts the fee could raise $75,000 in revenues per year.

The village is levying $24,444,411 in property taxes for next year, Chief Financial Officer Craig Lesner said.


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