Riverside trustees on Dec. 4 voted unanimously to approve the village’s 2015 operating budget, which includes more than $5 million in capital improvements, including the East Burlington streetscape project, repairing the roof of the historic train station, $2 million in street resurfacing, and $1.8 million in sewer improvements.

Of that amount, about $1.75 million is coming from grant funding. Another $1.4 million for street improvements is being funded through a bond issue approved by voters in November.

The sewer improvements are being funded with cash reserves in the village’s water and sewer fund.

By using grant and other forms of funding to pay for those capital expenditures, the village’s general operating fund, which pays for day-to-day expenses of the village, is expected to break about even in 2015.

According to the budget document passed by the village board last week, trustees have agreed to fund a modest shortfall in the general fund of about $20,000 with cash reserves. 

General fund revenues for 2015 are expected to come in at $8.92 million. That’s actually a slight decrease compared to projected revenues for 2014, which are expected to come in at $9.1 million.

Expenditures for 2015 are predicted to be in the vicinity of $8.94 million. For 2014, officials are projecting total general fund expenditures to come in at $8.83 million.

Riverside’s general fund reserve by the end of 2015 is expected to stand at about $5.6 million. At about 62 percent of annual expenditures, the village’s general fund reserves are strong.

The budget reflects the village’s recent investment in its Community Development Department, which handles building and zoning issues. In 2014, Riverside hired a new community development director and a full-time building inspector, increasing that department’s budget 27 percent over the village’s 2014 budget.

A new foreman’s position in the public works department, a hire made midway through 2014, is also reflected in the 2015 budget. 

Personnel costs for public works in the “streets and bridges” line item in the 2015 budget are listed at $541,000, a 41 percent increase over the 2014, which was budgeted at 383,840. 

However, actual expenses for that line item in 2014 are expected to come in closer to $515,000. Part of that increase can be attributed to the new foreman position. That number was also affected by the amount of money the village paid in 2014 for snow removal last winter.

In addition, the village has earmarked $30,000 for the development of a marketing plan for Riverside by the Economic Development Commission. The budget will also include $22,000 to create a grant program for business owners whose business signs are made non-conforming by the impending adoption of a new village sign code. Business owners who wish to replace their non-conforming signs will be able to get assistance from the village to do so.

Other capital expenditures for 2015 include $30,000 for a village-wide traffic study and $30,000 to demolish a decaying garage behind the Riverside Township Hall, which has been used to house equipment for the Department of Parks and Recreation. That equipment will be relocated to a garage next to the former Youth Center, behind the police department.

Riverside approves annual tax levy

At its regularly scheduled meeting on Dec. 4, the Riverside Village Board unanimously passed its annual tax levy, seeking an increase in property taxes in 2015 of about 2 percent.

Each year, non-home rule taxing bodies in Illinois, like Riverside, can extend their tax levies in order to keep pace with increased costs for providing services. The amount any non-home rule agency can increase its levy by annually is 5 percent or the consumer price index, whichever is less.

For tax levy purposes in 2014, the CPI is 1.5 percent. Riverside, like most other agencies, typically asks for more than that amount in order to capture the tax value of any new construction, which is not limited by tax caps.

In 2013, the village levied about $5 million in property taxes and is asking for a total 2014 levy of $5.1 million.

The village's 2015 general operating budget predicts total expenditures of about $8.9 million. The shortfall in revenues between the property tax levy and what the village needs to meet its 2015 obligations comes from a variety of sources, including state shared taxes, sales taxes, fees for services and fines.