Hours of discussion and three workshops into the city of Naperville’s budgeting process officials are one step closer to putting the 2022 budget to a vote next month.
No changes have been made to the proposal that features $540.49 million and is balanced.
Council members split over the city’s spending and how certain items, such as the creation of new staff positions, may be prioritized.
Budget Review Process
Some council members suggested they would support the idea of hiring an outside consultant to assist with the city’s budget review process.
Councilwoman Patty Gustin said she believes she’s put at a disadvantage as she is trying to ensure that taxpayer money is spent responsibly when it comes to staffing.
“I can’t tell you, you should expand; I can’t tell you, you should reduce,” Gustin said. “We don’t run the departments and we look at the departments heads. … My problem is I don’t have an answer for you.”
Not everyone agreed.
“I think that hiring a consultant to basically go around [City Manager] Doug [Krieger] is a vote of no confidence in him,” Councilman Ian Holzhauer said.
Employee Head Count Review
At the same time, some officials seem likely to support an employee head count review, which they say will help determine if city staffing levels are adequate.
“I don’t think it’s a bad idea to have an audit every 5, 10 years,” Councilman Paul Hinterlong said.
Finance Director Rachel Maher reminded the council that a consultant could recommend that the city add more positions after performing an employee head count review.
“I do have a little bit of a word of caution about using just these measures to indicate whether or not we’re doing our job because what this doesn’t answer is whether we’re meeting the expectations of our community,” Maher said.
Naperville tends to rank in the bottom half in staffing levels compared to peer communities, city council documents show.
Maher said city staff will always look to repurpose or make internal modifications before making changes to staffing or organizational structure.
The council also looked at an increase in funding for city beautification from $100,000 to $250,000.
Officials are eying different ways to beautify the city and its gateway points with new signage and banners.
Some council members said they like the proposal. But Mayor Steve Chirico said these are all the same things that were discussed by the city council a year ago.
“We cut it from the budget last year because we didn’t have a plan,” Chirico said.
Dick Dublinski, the city’s director of public works, disagreed, saying the issue is that last year the funding was cut from the budget.
“I don’t recall being asked for the plan,” Dublinski said.
Regardless, the city is proposing to enlist the services of a consultant to get the job done.
The city council is expected to give the budget consideration at its meeting on Dec. 7, when a public hearing will be held.
Naperville News 17’s Megann Horstead reports.
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