By Bob Uphues
Brookfield's finance director on June 22 told trustees that the estimated total impact on village revenues from the COVID-19 pandemic will be about $730,000 by the end of fiscal year 2020, which ends Dec. 31.
That figure, Doug Cooper said, was based on revenue losses the village has already experienced during the April and May shutdown of most commerce in the state as well as projections for revenue ramping back up as Illinois businesses gradually begin opening their doors in a limited capacity.
But, because of decisions made early on to either cut or defer costs and some unexpected increases in a couple of revenues streams, the village ought to be able to weather the storm.
"This started in March and right away I think a lot of municipalities and places were in shock," said Trustee Michael Garvey. "But we talked about this in April shortly after it happened, anticipating the possible impact and possible ways we were going to deal with it."
Among the cuts village officials made in April were furloughing crossing guards with the closure of schools, leaving a vacant public works position unfilled and reducing the number of summer seasonal employees in that department and eliminating merit raises for non-union village staff.
The village also has delayed hiring a building inspector and pushed off a major renovation of Candy Cane Park until 2021.
All of those line items added up to a savings of about $430,000.
While the pandemic resulted in a number of revenue streams falling or drying up entirely temporarily, it also positively impacted at least one.
The stay-at-home order resulted in an avalanche of online retail sales, which resulted in an increase in the village's per capita cut of sales taxes collected for online sales.
Cooper said the village stands to receive $50,000 more from online sales taxes than was budgeted for 2020.
Separately, and not related to the COVID-19 pandemic, is an estimated $100,000 increase in the amount of money Brookfield collects in ambulance fees. The increase was the result of an administrative change that has resulted in additional Medicare reimbursements for ambulance services, said Cooper.
Together with the budget cuts, the revenue increases have narrowed the $730,000 shortfall to about $150,000.
Trustees agreed earlier this year and reaffirmed on June 22, a decision to put off repairing the roof of the ESDA building, 4523 Eberly Ave., which is used for public works equipment and materials storage. Delaying that repair, will save an estimated $110,000 in 2020.
Officials are mulling whether to delay a renovation of the police department locker room, which had been planned for this year. That project will cost an estimated $50,000.
The village could alternately choose to close the final gap by using cash reserves, but that option did not surface during Cooper's presentation to trustees on June 22.
"As far as going into our reserve, we have not discussed that," Cooper said last week in a phone interview.
As for Cooper's revenue shortfall estimates in April, his total numbers were pretty close to what the village has experienced so far, though certain revenues were softer than expected while others were stronger.
For example, the village did not lose as much revenue in sales taxes as expected, with carryout food sales expanding during the shutdown and continued strong sales tax revenues from CVS and Tischler's.
"Our major sales tax producers, excluding the zoo, held solid," Cooper told trustees.
Income tax revenues losses were also softer than expected during April, May and the first half of June.
But the village saw greater than expected revenue losses from commuter parking fees, and collected a good deal less than expected in parking tickets.
Overall, however, while Cooper initially predicted revenue losses totaling $123,000 for April, May and the first half of June, the village actually lost $119,000.