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Sycamore's annual discussions start

SYCAMORE – As budget discussions get underway in Sycamore, Mayor Ken Mundy is optimistic the city’s economy is improving.

“We don’t expect huge increases in revenue,” Mundy said. “We did have an uptick in development in 2013, and it was the best year since ’07 in that regard. It’s an encouraging sign and I think we’re moving in the right direction.”

Although the budget isn’t finalized until late April, before the beginning of the new fiscal year May 1, City Manager Brian Gregory said discussions take place during several meetings over several months.

“The budget process takes place over about four months,” Gregory said. “It’s meant to be a transparent process, to allow anyone interested to participate.”

The first discussion, which occurred at the most recent City Council meeting, addressed the general
fund. Gregory said next up will be the water and sewer funds, and then the capital fund.

“We review assumptions by fund type and then compile the funds to create the proposed budget,” Gregory said. “The finance committee reviews the entire proposed budget during the budget workshop in March, so the total fiscal year ’15 budget numbers will not be available until then.”

As a reference point, Gregory said the entire fiscal 2014 budget, which ends April 30, is $61.9 million.

The city has several sources of general operating revenues, but the main sources are sales and use taxes, state-shared revenue – including the local share of state income tax – and property tax, which make up 75.6 percent of all general operating revenues. The amounts from minor revenue sources, such as fees, fines and other miscellaneous revenues complete the funds available for general operations.

Gregory said the total
estimated general fund revenue for fiscal 2015 is $14.2 million.

In reviewing the general fund, Mundy said an increase in revenue is expected between 2 percent and 3 percent. He said that modest increase, coupled with maintaining expenditure levels,
is keeping the budget balanced.

Mundy said the general fund has a reserve of about 30 percent.

Gregory said spending is expected to increase about 2 percent, as well. He said most of that increase can be attributed to personnel. Nonpersonnel spending is set to increase by less than 1 percent, with the majority of the increase coming in adjustments to training and safety initiatives.

“The key is, the budget is balanced,” Gregory said.

Revenue is expected to be about $1,000 more than spending, according to Gregory.

Aldermen will have two more opportunities to discuss and change the budget in April, with adoption at the second meeting of the month.

“I do want to emphasize this is just a consideration at this point,” Gregory said. “The final vote won’t happen until the second meeting in April.”

What’s next

• At the Feb. 3 City Council meeting, water and sewer fund budgets will be presented.

• At the Feb. 17 City Council meeting, capital fund and capital improvement plans will be be presented.

• In March, the council’s finance committee will conduct a budget workshop.

• In April, the final budget will be presented at both City Council meetings, with final adoption at the April 21 meeting.

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