Village officials do not have plans to borrow money for big road, sewer or other infrastructure projects in this year's budget.
At a Village Board budget meeting Monday night, village staff recommended not pursuing any major infrastructure projects, instead focusing on daily operations in the village, implementing a new GIS system, setting up a storm water utility and managing the consultants hired to analyze and plan major upcoming sanitary and storm water sewer projects.
Trustee Kevin Buckley said the lack of sewer projects planned next year might not be palatable to flood-prone homeowners eager to see shovels in the ground.
"The concept that the village is going to be doing more administrative things this year … and not be digging underground is going to come as a very big surprise to the village after flooding has occurred," Buckley said.
Each budget year, the village borrows money for capital improvement projects tagged at more than $50,000 and having a life span of more than 5 years.
In the 2011 budget, the Village Board budgeted $2.8 million in borrowed funds, with $2.6 million of that projected to be spent.
The proposed 2012 budget does not include any borrowed money, while using $775,000 of reserve funds, including $589,000 for a and $150,000 for an .
Village officials had originally scheduled about $4 million in capital improvement projects for 2012 as part of a five-year capital improvement plan distributed to trustees during last year's budget process. Some of the suggested 2012 borrowing listed in the five-year plan presented last year included $2 million for sanitary sewer, storm water and road construction on three blocks of Woodburn Street, $395,000 in storm water and road construction in the 4700 block of Newhall Street, $660,000 n the 5500 block of Diversey Boulevard and $225,000 for water tower maintenance.
Village Engineer Dan Naze said those infrastructure needs are still there, but they could conflict with the that consultants Donohue and Associates are expected to present at a Nov. 7 meeting.
"As of today, we need to be cautious as to what we jump ahead and start doing," Naze said. "We need to start looking at not only what was proposed a year to a year and a half ago, but also how that's going to change for the next five or 15 years."
Village President Julie Siegel said she supported the staff proposal.
"I don't have a problem explaining to residents that we are being very thoughtful here and that we want to get this right and not spend money unnecessarily," Siegel said.
Village Manager Patrick DeGrave said the money could be borrowed later on as needed. Recently, the village submitted a $4 million grant application for a $5 million storm water retention pond in , and he said the extra $1 million could be borrowed when the village finds out whether the grant was approved.
"We can massage that first debt to come due in 2013 so we are not impacting a budget that's already set," DeGrave said.
DeGrave added it is better not to borrow money that won't be used because the village is under statutory requirements as to how long it can hold on to borrowed money. Additionally, the village has some money in reserve for smaller projects.
"If we do anything in 2012, we can have a more targeted approach based on what we hear from Donohue instead of sitting here tonight wondering where we should put our first dollar," he said.
Capital equipment expenditures are already up $122,280 compared to the 2011 budget. Those expenses do not include $250,000 to replace the roof on and the former Department of Public Works building that is rented by , both of which could be funded with capital reserves.
Trustees have made their way through the bulk of the budget process, and any remaining budget issues will be discussed at the Nov. 7 Village Board meeting. The proposed tax levy of $10.72 million is a over last year's levy.
Proposed expenditures are increasing by 0.71 percent, which has been offset by a $350,000 drop in revenue, including a $58,692 cut in state shared revenue, a $70,361 cut in state transportation aid and a $26,100 cut in state recycling grants. At the same time, the village is contractually obligated to existing pension costs and 1.5 percent wage increases for police officers and DPW employees. DPW union contracts expire in 2013, and police officers are not subject to Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill.
While new state statutes prohibit the village from levying more than the amount of new construction last year — in the village, it was 0.37 percent – the village is able to levy more than usual this year because it reported more debt service than was required on last year's levy worksheet. By amending last year's levy worksheet, the village is now able to levy its proposed amount of $10.72 million.