Elburn officials ponder budget strategies

By on February 12, 2010

by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Like most taxing bodies, the village of Elburn is coping with declining revenue and rising costs, calling for creative budgeting measures. Those could include hiking water and sewer fees and changing employee salaries and benefits, Village President Dave Anderson said.

“There are no sacred cows,” he said.

Village officials already have started planning for the 2010-11 fiscal year budget because of an anticipated revenue shortage; they will be strategizing how to deal with the crunch until finalizing the budget in June.

The village’s goal is to continue providing resident services despite revenue constraints, Anderson said. He added that since “you need people to provide services,” that will be a challenge, but with employee salaries being a “huge chunk” of the village budget, that is where cuts might have to be made.

“We will have to do our best with what we have,” Anderson said.

Village employee annual salaries and benefits currently total about $2.3 million, comprising approximately one third of the village’s $6.8 million budget.

The village had to dip into its $5 million in reserves to cover the $2 million shortfall in revenue in the current budget. Village officials attribute the drop in revenue to the decline in building and utility connection permit fees because of the depressed housing market.

Anderson wants village staff and trustees to look hard at potential revenue sources such as higher water and sewer fees, he said during Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting. The water and sewer operating budget has a deficit of more than $200,000.

“The water and sewer department’s (revenues) don’t cover their costs,” Anderson said. “We can’t keep doing that and stay in business.”

Village Treasurer Mike Greenen agreed, saying the water and sewer department should be a self-maintaining entity.

Anderson said he knows residents might not be happy with water and sewer rate increases, but wants to give them a heads up that the hikes are coming.

Water and sewer operating costs have stayed basically the same while revenue from fees has declined in recent years because of more water-efficient bathroom plumbing and toilets in people’s homes, he said.

“I’m not knocking that but it makes a difference in water and sewer income,” Anderson said.