In testimony to the Illinois Senate Appropriations Committee this week, Flossmoor Mayor Paul Braun said proposed state cuts in revenues that are shared with municipalities won’t just impact his community.
Governor Bruce Rauner’s proposed 50 percent cut in the Local Government Distributive Fund (LDGF), Braun said, “will affect every single person in the State of Illinois.”
If Rauner’s LDGF proposal is approved by the Illinois General Assembly as part of the 2015-16 state budget, Flossmoor would lose $470,000. Homewood would lose $900,000.
Braun appeared at a Senate hearing Monday in Chicago. Two other south suburban mayors – Jim Holland of Frankfort and Rick Reinbold of Richton Park — also addressed the legislators. The mayors were contacted by the Illinois Municipal League to appear at the hearing.
A number of the mayors were allowed to testify and provide information on “how devastating a 50 percent reduction in LDGF would be to our residents and the village’s ability to maintain services to our residents,” Braun said.
LGDF revenues come from state income taxes and have been shared with municipalities for decades. In his Feb. 18 budget message, Rauner proposed the 50 percent LDGF cut, claiming that Illinois cities and villages have $15 billion in reserves.
During Monday’s hearing, senators asked Braun if reserve funds could be used to offset the proposed LDGF reduction.
In Flossmoor, Braun said, unrestricted general fund reserves are used for payment of capital for police, fire and public works equipment and supplies, and also for infrastructure repairs.
“To require Flossmoor to spend down its reserves to pay for general day to day operations would destroy the village’s longstanding ‘save first, then spend’ policy,” Braun said. “This could end up causing the village to have to go into debt to pay for replacement of capital equipment and make necessary infrastructure repairs.”
Spending down reserves will result in lower bond ratings when the municipality applies for debt financing, Braun said. That is the same situation that the State of Illinois is now facing, he added.
Braun said he believes the senators were impressed by the quality of information provided by the south suburban mayors.
He said he’s encouraged that Senator Michael Hastings, D-Tinely Park, has sent a letter to residents encouraging them to contact Rauner about the impact of LDGF cuts in their communities. Hastings’ district is just west of the H-F area.
“Tell him that the cuts to the LGDF will have an unsustainable impact on your community,” Hastings wrote. “Your voices collectively as a whole can and will make an impact on the way the governor views these funds.”