Brookfield trustees on Dec. 14 unanimously passed the village’s 2016 budget, a document described by Village Manager Keith Sbiral as “status quo, operationally” and which includes just a handful of major capital investments.
The budget estimates about $16.5 million in total general operating revenues in 2016, which is virtually flat compared to 2015 revenues. On the other hand, expenditures for 2016 are also estimated to be about flat compared to 2015 as well, at $15.6 million.
While that would seem to indicate a pretty fair surplus in the village’s general fund for 2016, cash transfers from the general fund to pay for equipment replacement and debt service will leave the general fund balanced by a margin of just $1,900, according to the budget document passed Monday.
In recent years, property revenues have stagnated and increased police and fire pension obligations have diverted revenues away from general government.
For example, in 2013, Brookfield contributed $1.85 million toward police and fire pensions. In 2016, the village has budgeted $2.4 million for those pensions obligations, a 30.5-percent increase in three years.
“Over the last few years, more property taxes have gone to pensions,” said Brookfield’s finance director, Doug Cooper.
What saved Brookfield’s 2015 budget from a general operations standpoint was greater-than-anticipated revenue from the village’s share of state income tax revenues.
But the cash squeeze has left the village with little for public works improvements outside of a couple of major initiatives slated for 2016.
The village expects to spend about $460,000 in motor fuel tax funds to resurface Shields Avenue from Maple Avenue to Eberly Avenue. The rest of the funding for that project will come from federal Surface Transportation Program funds.
Work on Shields Avenue is expected to begin in the spring of 2016. The Illinois Department of Transportation will seek bids for the work in January.
About $500,000 will be spent in both 2016 and 2017 to pay for the Washington/Forest pump station, a project that has been in the works for more than a year. The village and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago have been hammering out the details of an intergovernmental agreement for months.
The MWRD reportedly has pledged a little more than $1 million to help fund an underground storm water vault beneath Washington Avenue west of Salt Creek, as well as an ejector pump to help alleviate the flooding that occurs in that area during heavy rains.
The project also includes an above-ground storm water detention facility in the 3500 block of Forest Avenue. That facility will be located on property the village purchased earlier in 2015. Brookfield officials had hoped to buy another parcel of land to enlarge the above-ground site, which would have allowed it to retain a more natural look.
But, with just one 75-by-125-foot parcel in hand, the detention facility will be narrower, deeper and surrounded by a fence.
Sbiral said the intergovernmental agreement ought to be in front of the village board for a vote in January 2016.
“It’s substantially done,” Sbiral said.
The village’s cost for the project, which is expected to be about $1 million, is being budgeted across two years. The village’s share of the pump station project is being funded through the sewer and water fund, not the general operating fund.
Also in the budget this year is the purchase of a new pumper truck for the fire department. The vehicle will replace the department’s 1986 pumper. The $800,000 truck likely will be financed via a bank loan.
The Public Works Department, meanwhile, has called for the purchase of a $250,000 road grader for 2016, a vehicle it would use for more comprehensive alley grading. The larger, more powerful road grader would be used for more than just smoothing the gravel alleys.
“The approach is to do more reconstruction on the stone alleys, and that needs a bit more power,’ said Sbiral. “Also, if we have two alley graders, we can do it twice as quickly.”
Sbiral said village hall gets between 400 and 450 complaints about alleys each year.
“We wanted to address that issue head-on,” he said.
The village is also contemplating contributing $20,000 for the construction of a new boat launch on the east side of Salt Creek near the Gav baseball field in Kiwanis Park. The balance of the $75,000 project is to be funded by a state grant. However, due to the state budget impasse, those funds have not been released to the village.