ELBURN – The Elburn Village Board continued fiscal 2017 budget discussions March 7 with plenty of questions for the police and public works department line items.
Police department overtime costs drew the attention of the board, with members asking Police Chief Nick Sikora why they are so high. The overtime budget is set for $56,000, a little more than 7 percent of the total budget for salaries, which is $765,000.
Sikora said that, based on the police employment contract, full-time officers have first choice in covering shifts when another officer is out sick. This means the department pays out two and a half times the salary because it pays straight sick time to the officer who is out, and time-and-a-half of overtime pay for the officer covering the shift.
Since this is dictated by the contract, that won’t change. Trustee Jeff Walter asked that the sick time coverage be separated out from other overtime charges in the budget, to see whether there is a problem that can be addressed.
“I would just like to not keep beating you up about overtime,” Walter said.
Trustees also questioned several planned purchases, including a new vehicle for the chief. Although they agreed that his car, which would need a new transmission, is at the end of its life, they thought a used car would be more in line with what is needed.
Other proposed purchases include uniforms and vests, as well as tactical shields, stun guns, radios, pedestrian crossing signs and video cameras.
Sikora said that much progress has been made in training for officers within the past year, and this will continue into the new budget year. In addition to off-site training for individual officers, there will be four in-house training sessions – on handcuffs and nonlethal weapons.
The department will bring back National Night Out this year, and that cost is included in the $1,500 community relations line item.
Sikora said he has been discussing the event with the Elburn Lions Club, and it will be scheduled in August.
Public works budgeted items include $100,000 for stormwater improvements for the northwest quadrant of the village and $200,000 for sidewalk improvements, especially for the downtown streetscape.
Within the Motor Fuel Tax Fund, $360,400 has been set aside for street repair for a number of streets within the village, including West Nebraska Street, West Reader Street, Gates Street, First Street, East Nebraska Street, Third Street and Spring Valley Drive, as well as crack sealing for the entire Blackberry Creek subdivision.
In response to concerns from a number of residents, Public Works has also set aside $65,000 for the construction of fencing on the pedestrian side of the Anderson Road Bridge.
Discussions on other parts of the budget will continue through March, and the board will approve a tentative budget April 3. That will be on display for public viewing between April 4 and 17, when there will be a formal public hearing and budget approval at the April 17 meeting.