Morton Grove officials review finances in preparaton for budget talks
Updated: December 9, 2012 6:29AM
MORTON GROVE — Village officials have made “hard decisions” to help stabilize village finances, which are showing some progress with improvements in the economy overall.
That was the message Village Administrator Ryan Horne had for trustees at a recent meeting held to review finances in preparation for discussions on the 2013 village budget.
The village scheduled budget workshops at 6 p.m. Nov. 7 and Nov. 20 at the Richard T. Flickinger Municipal Center, 6101 Capulina Ave. The meetings are open to the public.
Horne said among the his objectives in developing the proposed budget is to maintain a 25 percent fund balance in the general fund, the main village operating fund. That means the village has on hand about 25 percent of annual costs in the fund.
Horne also cited what he called “expectation management,” ensuring that residents expect the village to provide services it cannot afford.
In the past two years the village has made what Horne called “hard decisions” and some significant spending cuts, including the elimination of the village-operated senior center. The center was taken over by the North Shore Senior Center without cost to the village. The village also has made staff reductions.
As a result, Horne said revenue and expenditures in the general fund have become more closely aligned.
In 2009, for example, he said revenues totaled about $21.2 million while expenditures totaled about $24 million. In 2011 and 2012 expenses exceeded revenues, but by less than $200,000 each year. Horne said the village covered that with reserve funds.
Finance Director Remy Navarrete noted that for several years the village overestimated revenue from retail sales taxes. This year, however, she expects the final figure to closely match what was included in the 2012 budget, about $3.6 million.
Hone said that is an example of improvements in the village’s efforts to project revenues in the budget.
Horne also reviewed the village’s debt service fund, used to issue bonds for improvements such as major road, water and sewer projects or capital purchases.
Horne noted that the village will have paid off a 2009 refunding bond issue in 2014. That will give the village bonding capacity available if officials decide to sell additional bonds.
Mayor Dan Staackmann said that the village’s efforts to pay down the bonds have resulted in a lower per capita debt.
Horne said that decline also helps the village improve its bond rating, which could be dropping if bond indebtedness was climbing.
“It’s one measure the bond rating firms use,” Horne said. “We would be highly concerned if those numbers were trending upward.”
At the same time, though, the village, with a AA Stable bond rating, is negatively impacted by the state’s financial problems, Horne said.
“That is out of our control,” he added.