Brookfield Police Chief Michael Kuruvilla | File

Purchasing a village-wide surveillance camera system, completing a major interior renovation of the police department and buying a new ambulance are among the biggest ticket items proposed in Brookfield’s budget for the 2023 fiscal year.

Unveiled publicly during a village board workshop on Nov. 9, the budget projects a general operating surplus for the fifth consecutive year, with federal COVID-19 relief funds during the past two years allowing the village to build up its largest cash reserve – projected $4.3 million, or 22 percent of annual operating expenditures by the end of 2022 — in many years.

“It is very important that we have a healthy fund balance,” Village Manager Timothy Wiberg said, adding that he expected the village to reach its cash reserve policy goal of 25 percent of annual expenditures by the end of 2023.

While the roughly $2.5 million in federal funds the village received in 2021 and 2022 via the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was important, said Wiberg, decisions trustees made in recent years to diversify revenue streams and increase fees for services addressed a structural imbalance that had led to a nearly $800,000 general fund deficit in 2018.

In 2019, the village began reversing a three-year trend of running deficit budgets. That year, the village started with about $1.77 million in reserve. By the end of 2022, the village is projected to have just over $3 million in reserve.

“If we don’t have a general fund balance, you don’t get through the COVID pandemic issues, or if you go through a recession and our revenues are negatively impacted,” Wiberg said.

At the village board’s budget workshop on Nov. 9, Wiberg provided a summary of highlights – the line-item budget has not been released publicly yet – which include more than $1.3 million in general fund capital expenditures, in addition to funds allocated for architectural planning services and to hire a handful of new personnel.

Other large capital projects, such as road resurfacing, sewer and water system improvements will be funded from sources outside of the general fund, such as motor fuel tax revenues, state and federal grants and water and sewer fees.

Among the biggest general fund capital expenditures is $275,000 to purchase a new ambulance, which replaces the ambulance the village purchased in 2006. Fire Chief James Adams has applied for a grant through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). If that is not successful, the village could use ARPA funds to make the purchase.

Village trustees tentatively have given a thumbs up to a $203,000 expenditure for a village-wide surveillance camera system requested by Police Chief Michael Kuruvilla. While some of the details need to be worked out, the chief said the new system would replace a patchwork of camera systems now operating at a half dozen locations in Brookfield.

The new system would bring cameras to roughly two dozen locations scattered throughout the village, mainly along main thoroughfares and in its three largest parks. To what extent license plate reader cameras will be part of the system eventually purchased by the village is unknown.

While Kuruvilla described the system as a primarily investigative tool, some trustees pushed for the kind of real-time information license plate reader cameras, which can be linked to regional and nationwide databases.

“I just think if we’re going to have a camera system it should have that additional capability,” said Trustee Brian Conroy.

The budget also calls for a roughly $219,000 project to renovate the lower-level locker rooms and the former 911 dispatch center on the ground floor. The locker room areas haven’t been updated since they were built in 1972, according to Kuruvilla, and the areas suffer from deteriorating plumbing fixtures and sewer lines.

The village also plans to spend $20,000 to hire an architect to complete a study and provide options for what to do with a block of five holding cells in the lower level, which were made obsolete when Brookfield joined the West Central Consolidated Communications (WC3) emergency dispatch agency.

An architect will also be hired at a cost of around $50,000 to design a second-story addition for the main fire station on Shields Avenue in the hopes that the village could apply for and win a grant to fund future construction.

Other fire department line items in the budget include hiring a part-time clerical employee, a position eliminated in 2008. The cost of the new employee would be funded in part through the creation of an annual fire inspection program for commercial properties. That new staffer would, as part of the job, schedule inspections and track data.

The $75 annual fee charged to commercial property/business owners for the fire inspections would also allow for hiring off-duty firefighters to perform the inspections, instead of using on-duty firefighters, as is the case now.

Using on-duty firefighters has resulted in an inconsistent inspection regimen, since they also routinely respond to emergency calls, including EMS calls.

The budget also calls for hiring an additional firefighter, another position eliminated in 2008 as a cost-cutting move. In August, FEMA awarded the Brookfield Fire Department a $379,000 grant through its Staffing For Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program, which for the next three years will pay 100% of that employee’s salary and benefits.

Also in the budget is a $220,000 line item to repair the steel roof trusses of the main public works building at 4545 Eberly Ave. The project had been included in the 2022 budget but was deferred after bids for the work came in far above what trustees had budgeted this year.

The village board also indicated support for a new policy that calls for setting aside $100,000 each year to create a Playground Equipment Replacement Program to make regular capital improvements at playgrounds and parks and address safety and accessibility issues.

The budget also calls for buying a new generator for the village hall, a $100,000 line item. The existing generator also dates to the building’s construction 50 years ago and is a critical source of power when the area loses power, as it did twice in the past six months – once due to a storm and once when a construction crew hit an underground ComEd line.