A (Mostly) Jargon-Free Recap of the Fiscal Year 2019 Budget
By Village Manager Phil Kiraly
In the midst of contentious budget discussions in Washington D.C., I feel lucky to serve in a Village with such clear direction and support for good government from our elected officials, as reiterated by the Board of Trustees voting unanimously to approve the Fiscal Year 2019 Budget (for March 1, 2018-February 28, 2019) at their January 18 meeting.
Don’t worry, while this blog is meant to recap budget highlights for the coming year – I won’t get too technical, mostly for fear that eyes may glaze over while reading about things like amortization or abatement. What I hope you do take away from this blog (other than the urge to Google “amortization” to remind yourself of how it applies to your mortgage) is that the Village’s financial position remains strong, evident by the fact that we are one of only 17 municipalities in Illinois to have a AAA credit rating from Standard & Poor’s. That’s not easy (especially in Illinois) and it’s a credit to sound financial planning that has taken place in Glencoe for generations. That being said, the road ahead still presents challenges—our long term forecasts suggest that we cannot continue to rely on revenues from things like property taxes or funds redistributed to us from the State, and that at the same time, our expenditures are on the rise.
To prepare for this, the Fiscal Year 2019 Budget incorporates projects and investments that leverage current resources through developing employees, improving processes and stretching the longevity of equipment and infrastructure. It’s a step in the right direction to help lower those long term expenses through thoughtful evaluation of how and why we provide the services that we do, and strategically changing them where possible and right-sizing government to meet the needs of our community. This is all being done to ensure that the Village can continue to provide the highest quality services to our residents in as an efficient, economical, equitable and environmentally sustainable manner possible long into the future.
Here are some key take-aways to know (for other specifics, view the Guide to the Village Budget page here):
- The Fiscal Year 2019 Budget includes just over $25 million in expenditures across all funds and departments, which is about $4.3 million less than last year, mostly due to a less extensive list of infrastructure projects as we finish the $10 million in infrastructure projects approved by referendum in April 2015. The Public Safety Department’s budget – which covers police, fire and paramedic services – is our largest area of spending (at approximately 49% of the total budget), with most of those dollars going toward our Public Safety Officers, command and support staff.
- There is one fewer employee this year (down to 95 – the lowest since prior to the 2009 recession), and fewer long-term capital needs. This was accomplished by outsourcing certain functions (garbage collection, building permit plan review and inspections and 911 dispatching, the latter required by State mandate). Outsourcing garbage services alone reduced our vehicle replacement costs by over $1.5 million and limited ongoing operational costs significantly.
- The budget includes $3.45 million in recommended Community Improvement Program (CIP) projects, including the final year of infrastructure improvements paid for with the remaining bond funds as I noted above. Bond funded projects include the lining of sanitary storm sewers (extending the useful life of the sewers by at least 50 years), storm sewer outfall improvements at the lakefront at South Avenue, Apsen Lane, Longwood Avenue and Sylvan Road (critical to helping preserve the our precious ravines by limiting erosion and pollution) and over 30,000 square feet of residential sidewalk replacements. Enhancements to Tudor Court will also be considered as we finalize the Tudor Court Design Review process.
- Other CIP projects include an investment in a new enterprise resource planning software—which will help streamline the Village’s internal and customer-focused business processes (i.e. payments to the Village, permits, business licenses)—as well as light pole replacements in the commuter parking lots, restoration of sidewalk pavers in the downtown area and replacement of critical front-line equipment for the Public Safety and Public Works departments. View the full Fiscal Year 2019 CIP list here.
- Glencoe residents will see changes to the water rate structure, including an increase in water rates for all users. The changes are part of an ongoing review of the Water Fund’s operating and infrastructure investment needs which included a comprehensive rate analysis conducted in fall 2017 and an equally comprehensive distribution system analysis completed in 2016. Following extensive discussion with the Village Board over the course of the last several months, a new fixed charge (based on water meter size) and an increased volumetric rate were approved and incorporated into the budget in order to develop resources necessary to complete improvements throughout the Village’s aging water distribution system network. You can read about the Water Rate Analysis here.
So what does this mean to you? The volumetric rate change represents a 26% increase, however, even with this and the new fixed charge, Glencoe’s rates fall below the average rates charged by many of our surrounding communities. That being said, as the rate structure change is markedly different, you can expect further outreach from the Village. Stay tuned to the Village website, my blog and social media in the coming weeks to learn more.
I encourage you to review the budget document in its entirety. We have included a bookmarked PDF is available for download here. If this is your first time taking a look at a municipal budget document, I encourage you to start with the Budget Guide on page 3 as it explains each section of the over 270 page document.
As always, should you have any questions about the budget document, or any project or initiative that we have planned for the coming year, I hope you know where to find me. As always, thanks for reading, and thanks for being engaged.