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Geneva council approves $96M budget for 2017-18

GENEVA – Aldermen approved a 2017-18 fiscal year budget of $96 million April 17, a spending plan that is $5 million more than the $91 million approved last year.

Of that, the general fund, which pays for the day-to-day expenses of the city, is nearly $17 million, officials said. The vote was 8-2 with 5th Ward Alderman Tom Simonian and 3rd Ward Alderman Mary Seno voting no.

General fund revenue includes sales tax and property tax, about $5 million each, records show. Also $2 million of property tax goes toward the city’s debt service, records show.

The city also collects a municipal tax on gas, electricity and water utilities, totaling $1.2 million, records show.

Of the 1.5 percent sales tax revenue received, 0.5 percent is restricted for capital improvement and infrastructure projects, documents show.

The electric fund budget is nearly $44 million, while the budget for water and wastewater is $23 million, documents show. City Administrator Stephanie Dawkins described the utilities as paying for themselves through user fees, not taxes.

Under the new budget, the city’s annual property tax for the average Geneva home with a market value of $300,000 will be decreased by $3.81 per month, documents show.

The city’s portion of the average tax bill is approximately 8 percent of the total, officials said.

TriCom Emergency Dispatch’s budget of $3.5 million is included in the city’s budget, officials said.

The city faced several challenges in creating the new budget, according to Dawkins’ budget summary.

These included federal and state mandates and constraints, national and regional economic concerns, decline and delays in state shared revenue, customer service response levels associated with reduced workforce, aging infrastructure and equipment, and the lack of a state budget for more than a year, including the threat of losing state shared revenue and a property tax freeze as proposed by Gov. Rauner, officials said.

In response to the challenges, the city held its operating budgets as close to no cost increases as possible, providing no funding for education reimbursement, limited funds for professional development and no overnight travel until funded by grants or other means and reduction of non-emergency overtime, officials said.

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