It’s time for a change in the city of Naperville. That was the message financial staff spelled out for council members after reviewing the current budget and looking to the future.
After years of building up and expanding our city, those trends have slowed, leading to a lack of excess cash flow.
“As Naperville concluded its significant period of growth, we’ve had to build quite a bit, which also means we’ve had to borrow, and we had some excess cash balances, we were able to operate and utilize this cash balance and utilize and maintain our property at a low rate up until this point,” said Doug Krieger, Manager for the City of Naperville. “At this point we don’t have excess cash to rely on and therefore we need a new plan moving forward.”
That plan focuses on two different goals, first to find more ways to fund the operating budget deficit of about $6.8 million, and second to re-build the cash reserves which are $18 million below the required levels.
Councilman Paul Hinterlong proposed making service cuts where appropriate to fill the gaps.
But Rachel Mayer, Director of Finance with the city, says that won’t solve long-term problems.
“Naperville has created a brand for itself that says ‘this is the level of service that you expect when you live in Naperville’ and so we don’t from our analysis, and what we have seen, we don’t think that there are any service cuts that would fix the $7 million gap, and our residents would be ok with having in place for a long period of time,” said Mayer.
Another option, a home rule sales tax, which would tack on an additional one percent to the local tax for goods purchased in the community.
“That’s the area within our portfolio that we really feel has some capacity to be able to provide some additional revenues without hurting the competitive advantage that were created for our business community,” said Mayer.
Also on the table, a proposed monthly fee increase of about ten dollars for garbage and recycling to help fill the operating budget.
Whatever the plan, Krieger wants to make sure it helps continue the city’s triple a bond rating, which they’ve enjoyed for 21 years.
“It’s something that is very important to us and something that we look to maintain. I believe that if we go out what a sound long-term financial solution for this it will not have a negative impact on our bond rating. However, I believe if we were to short change it, it could potentially have a negative impact,” said Krieger.
City staff plans to look further at their budgetary options at their next financial strategy meeting on August 11.
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