In approving a new municipal budget Monday, Flossmoor officials met their goal of passing a “zero growth” spending plan in which projected expenditures in the coming year are no higher than the current spending levels.
The new spending numbers are, in fact, $771 lower than the budgeted expenditures in the current fiscal year.
Village Manager Bridget Wachtel told Flossmoor’s Board of Trustees that general fund operating expenses for the2017 fiscal year – which begins May 1 – are $9,482,690, as compared to $9,483,461 in the current budget.
The general fund is the all-important account that finances most day-to-day village services, including the police and fire departments, planning and zoning, the executive and legislative branches, inspectional services and public works. Flossmoor has separate funds for water and sewer, and capital spending, as well as 15 smaller accounts. The overall budget for all village funds, including Flossmoor’s debt load, comes to about $23 million.
Late last year Mayor Paul Braun and the village board directed Wachtel and her staff to initiate a zero growth general fund budget for the coming fiscal year. Braun said at that time that he has heard from growing numbers of Flossmoor residents about the high local property taxes and that he wanted the village to hold the line on governmental spending. He also pointed out that Flossmoor’s share of the property tax bill is much lower than what is collected by the village’s two school districts.
Braun said Monday that the zero growth initiative shows that Flossmoor is concerned about keeping government spending at a level that respects local taxpayers. In an era when future state spending is uncertain, he said, Flossmoor is making a statement about the cost of responsible government.
“I don’t know what the state is going to do,” Braun said. “But I know what Flossmoor is doing. If folks ask us what we’re doing, we can show them what we’ve done.”
Braun asked officials in other local governmental bodies to also consider their taxpaying residents before approving their own budgets.
In her final budget memo to the board prior to its passage, Wachtel said the new spending plan has an operating deficit of $270,293 due, in part, to planned capital projects or carryover funds for projects that were not completed in the current fiscal year. She said the deficit will be covered by the fund balance including set-asides in the village’s Finance and Facilities Plan.
Overall, the village is in good fiscal health, Wachtel said, pointing out that Flossmoor operates with little debt so that financial risk is “relatively minimal.” Continued fiscal success is a result of sound financial planning combined with “an incremental yet responsive approach” to fluctuating economic impacts, she wrote.
“In an environment in which many private businesses and public agencies are cutting services, we are proud to report that we continue to sustain all current service levels, which has been a main objective of the village board,” Wachtel said.
This year’s budget includes spending for several capital projects in Flossmoor, including engineering for the Brookwood Bridge and Butterfield Road Culvert reconstruction, engineering for the Phase IV Sanitary Sewer rehabilitation, reconstruction of the Woods Lift Station, Dartmouth Bridge reconstruction and additional residential water meter replacement. Budgeted costs for these projects come to $760,750.
Village board members Monday also formally approved a water and sewer rate increase of $1.25 per thousand gallons. They gave the green light to the new rates at the April 4 meeting.
The increase brings the overall water and sewer rate to $15.20 per thousand gallons, which is likely to mean the average residential customer in Flossmoor will see an additional $32 on their quarterly bill from the village.
Two weeks ago, board members reluctantly voted to hike the water and sewer rates after Finance Director Scott Bordui reported that Flossmoor is facing a projected shortfall of $235,000 in the designated reserve level in the Water and Sewer Fund, which village officials set at slightly more than $1 million.