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Geneva considers fees to help budget

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012 6:25 p.m. CDT

GENEVA – Geneva residents and businesses might see an increase in fees as the city seeks to create a balanced budget for the next fiscal year.

City Administrator Mary McKittrick proposed numerous possible revenue enhancing fees to aldermen at a special committee of the whole Monday, as officials begin budget talks for the city’s 2012-2013 fiscal year.

The National League of Cities has predicted that cities’ fiscal conditions will remain weak for the fifth year in a row, McKittrick said. The prediction is based on the national economic recession, struggling real estate markets, cuts in state aid and grants and slower consumer spending among others. 

“City management recommendation to the city council relative to budget development continues to be we use a balanced approach,” McKittrick said. “That means looking at revenue enhancements as well as spending cuts. And we’ve done a pretty good job of cuts, of looking at reductions. I think that most would agree, if you look at both sides of that equation, that is the equivalent of running government like a business.”

McKittrick said the city’s spending has been cut by $4 million over the past three years. 

These cuts came from a management wage freeze, wage adjustments for non-management workers, deferring capital projects, extending the lives of computer, vehicles and equipment, eliminating education reimbursement, reducing the scope of health benefits, refinancing debt, doing public works projects in-house and eliminating the summer employee picnic and appreciation dinner.

Cost reductions also came when employees left or retired, and if their positions were replaced, it was at lower pay or by creating part time positions without the cost of benefits.

Among the items to be considered for adding a fee or increasing an existing one are those comparable cities have used or are considering in the next fiscal year, McKittrick said.

These include an amusement tax for devices and exhibitions – the city has one that has never been implemented – vehicle stickers, dog and cat license fees, increases in daily parking and commuter parking fees, a tow impoundment fee, increased restaurant and liquor license fees, adding a storm sewer maintenance fee, taxi cab licensing, auto rental and leasing fees and charging fees to nonprofits for permits and inspections.

McKittrick said the philosophy is to assign a cost recovery approach for all user fees.

“My recommendation is not so much a wants vs. needs any longer, but living within our means,” McKittrick said.

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