Surplus in early budget discussions for Homewood

Homewood Director of Finance Dennis Bubenik presented a draft budget that starts with a surplus of more than $500,000.

Bubenik outlined the budgeted expenses for trustees at the village board meeting on March 26. 
“There’s always a demand for more of our services. We’d all like to see a faster fire response time. We’d like to see criminal cases cleared faster. And of course we’d like to have snow removed faster, too,” Bubenik said. “But we don’t have unlimited funds so through this budget, we do strike the ability to put out the fires, to solve the crimes, to plow the snow.”
The village’s general fund in the draft budget totals $21.48 million. It includes day-to-day operations, police and fire, pensions and public works. The other two largest allocations are the water and sewer fund at $8.07 million and the capital improvement fund at $2.34 million.
Bubenik said about 70 percent of village revenues come from five sources: sales tax, property tax, income tax, utility tax and other fees. Revenue increases for this year will bring in added revenue. Liquor license fees are up due to a change for licensees with video gaming, and foreclosure and vacancy fees will be collected for the first time under a new village program.  Combined those two should bring in about $85,000 for the village, he said.
Ambulance fees also are going up for the first increase since 2015. Bubenik anticipates an extra $127,000 there.
Homewood will also transfer $600,000 to this budget from resources in the Intergovernmental Risk Management Agency. Bubenik said the village has belonged to IRMA for 20 years, and had $750,000 invested in IRMA.
That money could be used for economic development projects like the village hall parking lot, the Triumph building in downtown and the former Bogart's restaurant site. 
Expense increases include $45,000 for a grant writer for the village manager’s office; $25,000 for a municipal code clean up and rewrite; $50,000 to public works for tree removal due primarily to the dying maple trees; $30,000 for the fire department to lease a backup engine; and $25,000 in salary for hiring three part-time police officers approved at the March 12 meeting.
Bubenik called Homewood a “very, extremely low-debt community.” The village holds $548,277 in debt at a 1.95 percent interest rate. The next planned bond issue is in summer of 2020.
“This is a pretty good plan for the coming year,” Bubenik said of the proposed two-year budget. 
The budget for 2019-2020 is expected to be before trustees for adoption at the board’s April 9 meeting. It can be adjusted in a year, Bubenik said, if necessary.

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