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Geneva approves $89M budget

GENEVA – Aldermen approved a city budget of more than $89 million for the 2014-15 fiscal year this week, following a public hearing in which no member of the public spoke. 

The new spending plan reflects nearly $91 million in revenue, officials said. That is a $4.5 million increase over last year’s budgeted revenue of $86.5 million, records show.

Mayor Kevin Burns said the new budget was balanced.

“As always, it’s responsible. It’s forward-thinking,” Burns said. “It respects the wishes, the intents and the expectations of the citizens and business owners.”

Burns said additional revenue and expenditures in the budget include $4.75 million third-level commuter parking deck, a capital project largely funded by a grant.

In presenting the new budget, City Administrator Mary McKittrick said the plan reflects a spending increase of $4.5 million or 5 percent over the previous year’s expenses, which were budgeted at $85 million, officials said.

Among the budget challenges the city faced were federal and state mandates and constraints, national and regional economic conditions, issues with collective bargaining, declining equalized assessed values and decline and lay in state shared revenues.

Other issues McKittrick reported were rising fuel and power costs, aging infrastructure and equipment, as well as a moderately high debt level of nearly $52 million. The city’s operating budgets were held as close to zero expenditure increases as possible, but included an increase in costs for public safety pension liability, fuel, liability insurance, group health insurance and wage increases for contracted and noncontracted employees.

McKittrick reported that staff held 24 budget-related meetings to come up with strategies to control costs while still providing quality services.

These included continuing a general hiring freeze and a voluntary furlough program, not giving education reimbursements, limiting professional development and overnight travel, deferring and scaling back capital projects and reducing nonemergency overtime.

The largest source of revenue for the city’s general fund – a portion of the budget that pays for most of Geneva’s day-to-day expenses – comes from sales taxes: 29 percent or $500,000.

Property taxes of more than $4.5 million account for 26 percent of the general fund budget. The total property tax levy of $6.3 million includes $1.8 million for debt service, officials said.

The increase in the levy will increase by $4.62 a month for an average Geneva home valued at $350,000, officials said.

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