Braun: Flossmoor will meet zero growth budget target

Flossmoor village officials anticipate the Meijer store
at Crawford Avenue and Vollmer Road could
generate $354,000 from sales tax in the coming
fiscal year, helping bolster the village budget.

(Photo by Tom Houlihan/H-F Chronicle)
 

Flossmoor is poised to meet its goal of a zero growth budget for the 2017 fiscal year, Mayor Paul Braun said Thursday.

Village board members Monday received preliminary budget figures showing that overall operating expenses in the all-important general fund would be about $60,000 higher for the coming year than what was approved in the 2016 spending plan. The current budget was approved last spring with $9,483,461 set aside for operating expenses.

Braun said he and the other board members are pleased that village staff presented a preliminary budget so close to a zero growth spending plan.

However, he wants the village to meet its true zero growth target. For that to happen, additional cuts will be needed in some spending areas, Braun told the H-F Chronicle.

“We’ve directed the staff to make those cuts so that operating expenses in the new budget don’t increase over this year’s level,” he said. “We want to do that for our residents.”

The 2017 budget is scheduled to go into effect May 1. Village board members are expected to approve the document in mid-April.

Braun said $60,000 in additional budget cuts will come in three main areas. About $17,000 will be trimmed in spending on laptop computers for village board members. A contingency fund covering unplanned lawsuits against the village will be cut. And a downtown streetscape program will be put on hold for another year.

Village board members directed staff to prepare a 2017 zero growth budget late last year. In December, Braun called for a budget in which Flossmoor holds the line on spending in the coming year by not increasing general fund expenditures over the 2016 level.

Village Manager Bridget Wachtel Monday made a presentation on the preliminary budget. The draft figures show operating expenses for 2017, at $9,351,338, already lower than last year’s spending number. But additional spending, including increased personnel costs, are expected to be added during the budget process and that ultimately leads to the $60,000 difference between 2016 and 2017, she said.

The general fund covers most of the day-to-day village expenses in areas ranging from administration and finance to police and fire to public works and inspectional services. The overall village budget – which also includes water and sewer services and Flossmoor’s debt load – is expected to be about $20 million in the coming year.

Wachtel said there are some bright spots in the new budget proposal, including a reduction in some personnel areas for health insurance, Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund contributions and workers compensation and liability insurance.

But there is still a gap of about $300,000 between overall revenues and expenditures in the 2017 general fund budget, she added. Flossmoor’s equalized assessed valuation – the total taxable worth of residential and business property – has fallen sharply in recent years and that continues to negatively affect the village’s property taxes. Wachtel called the discrepancy between revenues and expenditures a “structural defect.”

This is the first budget that includes revenues from Flossmoor’s Meijer store, which is expected to open this summer, Wachtel said. The budget includes eight months of anticipated sales tax revenue from Meijer, or about $354,000. Eventually, Flossmoor expects to collect about $750,000 a year in sales and real estate taxes from the Meijer complex, she said.

The 2017 budget will be on the agenda during the next three village board meetings, with final approval likely on April 18.

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