A new leaf collection program and the village's $24 million capital improvements plan are two highlights from New Lenox's fiscal year 2013 budget.
On Monday, the Village Board approved the budget. Last month, the board met to discuss the state of the village's finances and potential changes to revenue and expenditures. The proposed budget is $95.6 million, with a balanced operating budget.
"It’s still tough times, but it’s forcing us to plan," trustee Dave Smith said. "And I think the best of times are just beginning for us."
You can view the village's presentation and a rundown of some expenses in the PDF attachments to this article.
Capital Improvements Plan
The biggest addition to this year's budget is the capital improvement plan approved last year. Some new revenue has been realized this year, but the fiscal year 2013 will be the first full year with the new revenue.
Last year, the board voted to increase the New Lenox sales tax by a 1/2 a cent, bringing the total rate to 8.5 percent, and also increase its utility tax 5 percent on gas and electric .
The village's budget includes a $24 million bond issuance that estimates a $10.5 million police station, $9.5 million public works facility and $4 million extension to Nelson Road.
That will account for an estimated $3.6 million boost to revenue this fiscal year. The largest chunk of that ($1.85 million) will go toward the capital improvements, including engineering, right-of-way, furniture and even some architectural fees for the new police station, public works facility and Nelson Road extension.
"The utility tax and home rules sales tax allows for an investment in the village’s future," said village finance director Kim Auchstetter, who gave the budget presentation to the board.
The remainder of the new revenue will go toward creating a master plan for the vacant area near the Village Commons, paying for additional road resurfacing and new equipment.
New Equipment, Staff
While revenue has increased through the new taxes, some expenses have increased as well with new equipment and personnel.
The village plans to replace 23 old computers and also purchase three new vehicles, two of which will be leaf vacuum trucks. With these new machines, the village will be able to provide the service of leaf pickup where residents can just rake leaves to the curb.
“In the communities that have leaf pickup, there’s no program that’s more popular," Mayor Tim Baldermann said.
Village Administrator Kurt Carroll added that the machines will also help the village's efficiency when put to use in the sanitary system or during possible water line breaks.
Sticking with the streets department, the village plans to add three new street laborers, move a part-time clerical employee to a full-time position and pay a full year's salary for a human resources director who came on mid-year.
Water and Sewer Costs
As the village and other municipalities that get Lake Michigan water, the uncertainty has the village planning in the budget.
In addition to those potential water costs, New Lenox plans to spend about $1.3 million on removing phosphorous from the waste water treatment plant No. 1 and $750,000 on anti-degradation at plant No. 2.
The village's capital improvements plan called for about $1.1 million spent annually on road resurfacing, allowing the village to fix about four times the amount of road it currently does each year. That plan wasn't supposed to kick in until 2013, but now the village .
Metra Parking Fee
The budget includes a plan to increase the daily parking fee from $1 to $1.25, which will help cover the annual cost of maintaining the lot. Currently, residents who don't use the lot .
Auchstetter said the village would review the parking fee annually and consider another increase in the future to help save for necessary lot maintenance, which occurs every 15 years for each of the four lot sections. Ideally, Auchstetter said, the village would save about $57,000 for future lot maintenance every year. But with new streets employees added, the village hopes it can do more lot maintenance in-house instead of contracting the work.