In past years, passing the annual budget for the village of Brookfield was accompanied by some fanfare and, at times, debate. But the passage of the 2012 budget was just another routine item on the village board’s agenda Dec. 12.
Trustees voted unanimously to adopt the $13.8 million operating budget as an item in the omnibus agenda, along with other such routine matters as approving meeting minutes and a new policy for increased picnic fees.
Village Manager Riccardo Ginex in a separate interview said the reason there was so little discussion of the 2012 budget was that the board hammered out a two-year plan in 2010, when the board did meet on multiple occasions and debated budgeting policy.
“We did a two-year budget last year, so we were kind of ahead,” said Ginex, who added that in 2012, village staff and the board will begin another two-year budget cycle in June which will feature budget workshops.
The operating budget passed on Dec. 12 is balanced by a scant $4,200, although there are some budgeted expenses that likely won’t be made. For example, the budget includes a placeholder for the position of village planner, a job that’s been vacant since April 2010. There are no plans to fill the position at this time, said Ginex.
Revenues are expected to be slightly higher in 2012, with an expected 2.5 percent increase in property taxes collected. Property taxes have recovered somewhat from 2009. The $7.86 million the village expects to collect in 2012 is 9 percent higher than the property tax revenue received in 2009.
Total expenditures, meanwhile, in 2012 are budgeted to be slightly lower than 2011. However, the $14.6 million the village expects to expend from its general operating fund in 2011 is 5 percent more than was budgeted.
The village expects some of the savings in 2012 to come from lower expenses for legal services, a line item that has ballooned in the past two years. In 2009, Brookfield paid $225,171 for legal services. In 2010, the figure jumped 69 percent to $380,068. While the final number for legal services is expected to fall by the end of 2011, the $365,000 predicted is still far above the 2009 figure.
Both 2010 and 2011 featured both prolonged wrangling over union contracts and a behind-the-scenes battle involving legal counsel with the Chicago Zoological Society over a proposed amusement tax and significant changes to water charges.
For 2012, Brookfield expects to pay $276,250 for legal services, based partly on the fact that the village does not expect to be doing any union negotiating next year and because the village’s issues with the zoo are behind it.
The village also expects to pay about $100,000 less in 2012 than its final bill in 2011 for forestry services. Wave after wave of storms this summer resulted in skyrocketing costs for tree removal and trimming. The final cost for forestry service in 2011 is expected to be $285,710 compared to the $190,500 budgeted. The 2012 budget for forestry services is $182,300.
As far as major capital expenditures go, the largest projects include phase two of the Grand Boulevard/Monroe Avenue storm sewer/road resurfacing project, the completion of a new round of work at Jaycee/Ehlert Park and a storm sewer project for Maple Avenue south of the railroad tracks. A major portion of those projects are grant funded.
In addition, the village plans on setting aside an additional $300,000 in its cash reserve fund, which was created by the village board in 2009. When the 2012 contribution is made to that fund, Brookfield will have approximately $1.1 million in its cash reserve fund, or about 8 percent of its annual operating expenditures.
In addition, according to the budget, at the end of the 2012 fiscal year, Brookfield will have a reserve of about $1.25 million in its general operating fund.