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Homewood draft budget presentation has more optimistic tone than last year’s

A draft budget is being considered by the Homewood village board and it’s looking toward a brighter outlook in the post-pandemic world. 

Finance Director Dennis Bubenik gave an informal presentation of a draft of the 2021-2022 budget at a village board meeting April 13.

“You all remember that 12 months ago, we were dealing with shock in the US economy and right here in Homewood due to the COVID-19 situation,” Bubenik said. “We had to make some last second cuts to the budget.”

Homewood adjusted projections for revenue from sales tax last year down 14 percent, for places for eating tax down 15 percent and income tax down 17 percent. As a result, the village finance department looked for items it could postpone for a year to pick up again when the pandemic wasn’t such an economic hindrance. 

“In spite of the times, it’s an optimistic picture,” Mayor Richard Hofeld said. “There’s a lot of towns that are suffering badly and we’re holding our own.”

Bubenik used the annual pavement marking program as an example of cuts to the last budget that could return in the next. Homewood usually spends $120,000 annually on that, but it was cut. An additional $100,000 was added to the next budget to offset that loss.

“What we ended up with was a little bit of a budget deficit,” he said. 

That deficit was about $286,000 on a $22 million budget for 2020-2021.

Bubenik said some projections for the next year don’t look like they were quite as bad as was expected 12 months ago. 

“A lot of our smaller line items, fines and fees and those types of things, either dried up or didn’t happen at all,” he said. “It was kind of good news, bad news. Maybe sales tax wasn’t as bad as we thought but a lot of the smaller items did go down.” 

The draft budget for the coming year is more optimistic. Sales tax projections were increased by 19 percent and places for eating tax by 17 percent. 

The addition of a new gasoline and recreational cannabis taxes will also boost revenues. Each are budgeted for $360,000 in income.

The draft has a $172,604 deficit. Finance staff created options for both revenue increases and cuts for the village board to consider. Trustee Jay Heiferman suggested the village consider options to increase revenue and cut simultaneously “if it doesn’t have a tremendous effect on residents directly.”  

“The general revenue picture is we’re trying to get back more toward normal,” Bubenik said. “I think a balanced budget is crucial to the long-term financial interests for the village of Homewood’s operations.”

The board will vote on the final budget at its next meeting.

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