August 24, 2015

Council Reviews City Budget

After several meetings and workshops, Naperville city staff has presented an official plan for the city’s budget. But the Naperville City Council hasn’t agreed on how aggressively they want to move forward with the plans.

Director of finance Rachel Mayer recently outlined a few adjustments to the budget to help solve the $6.8 million budget shortfall and rebuild cash reserves, which are $18 million below the required levels.

“The city of Naperville currently has identified several financial challenges, one of them being that we are operating a structural imbalance with our operating funds, we are seeing some debt levels, to the lack of recurring revenues identified for capital, and then we also have deplenished some of our reserves beyond our required policies,” said Rachel Mayer, Director of Finance with the City of Naperville.

To help solve those issues, city staff has recommended council adopt several new proposals in the coming fiscal year.

One would help solve a portion of the $6.8 million dollar structural deficit by increasing the household garbage fee from about $2 to $12 per month.

But the substantial centerpiece of the meeting discussed adding an additional 1% tax for goods purchased in Naperville excluding cars, groceries and drugs to help the escalating debt.

While council supported the suggestions, some business owners in the community aren’t happy about how an increased tax might affect their businesses.

“Right now there’s an unfair advantage to somebody that sells from out of state and doesn’t have to charge a sales tax and to add an additional 1% or half a percent onto our existing tax just increases that burden,” said Kris Hartner, Owner of Naperville Running Company.

City staff also presented their plans to the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce, who hasn’t taken a formal position on the matter yet, but generally doesn’t support increases in taxes.

“Naperville is a great area to come enjoy, to shop and dine, but at the end of the day, if we’re no different than the surrounding communities, really what is the allure to bring people here?” “It puts our business at a serious competitive disadvantage,” said Nicki Anderson, President & CEO of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce.

Besides the two outlined plans, council also directed staff to look elsewhere for the $1.8 million structural deficit not solved by the garbage fee. Staff will look at internal budget cuts for that, but overall feel these changes are needed to keep the city on track.

“We are looking for a structurally balanced, sustainable budget for the long run, something that allows us to continue to provide great city services for this community, something that this community has been known for overall and something that will allow us to continue to provide cost effective services and continue to build this great community,” said Mayer.

Also agreed upon that night was a list of new financial principles for staff to follow moving forward to help guide financial goals.

The next city council meeting will be held August 18, when council is expected to make final recommendations to staff as to how to move forward.


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