Braun asks Flossmoor village staff to examine possible budget cuts

As Flossmoor’s municipal budget process continues, Mayor Paul Braun has asked staff members to investigate how the village might trim its spending by 10 percent.

At Monday’s village board meeting, Braun directed Village Manager Bridget Wachtel to bring back a proposal on what a potential 10 percent reduction in the general fund – it could total about $900,000 – would look like.

Braun’s request came during a Monday discussion of the 2016 Flossmoor budget, which village board members are expected to approve before the end of April. Wachtel and the village’s department heads presented tentative budget figures two weeks ago showing that Flossmoor is facing a $450,000 deficit for 2016.

That shortfall would be covered by general fund reserves, which currently total $6.2 million. Wachtel said the village’s five-year spending plan anticipated the current deficit, and the use of the reserve funds to balance the general fund budget. The general fund covers most day-to-day expenses in the village, including police, fire and public works spending.

Flossmoor’s budget picture is further complicated by Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed 50 percent reduction of state income tax revenues that, for decades, have been shared with municipalities. If the General Assembly goes along with Rauner’s proposed cut, Flossmoor would lose an additional $468,000 in the upcoming fiscal year.

With the anticipated deficit, and the possibility of a reduction in the state funds, Flossmoor is facing a potential $918,000 financial hole, Braun said.

“I thought it prudent to ask the village board to direct staff to explore what budget cuts could be considered by the board to reduce this potential deficit,” Braun said. He said he did not discuss his request for potential reductions with any village trustees prior to the meeting.

“These types of discussions are better aired at public meetings,” he said.

Braun and Wachtel both said Flossmoor, which has a long history as a community with fiscally conservative budgets, is not currently facing a financial crisis and that village finances remain healthy.

“Flossmoor does have sufficient fund balance reserves to absorb this deficit,” Braun said. “But I thought it best to have the village board and staff explore what other options might be available other than just spending down ‘rainy day’ reserves.”

He added that reducing core village services would be a last resort consideration for Flossmoor officials. 

“But the village board and I should at least have an idea what staff can recommend while we all wait to see what develops with the State of Illinois,” he said.

There was a general consensus among board members at Monday’s meeting that looking for ways to possibly make budget reductions was a proper move.

Wachtel said she will present a proposal at the April 6 board meeting that shows how some budget reductions can be made during the coming fiscal year.

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