State shortfall worsens village budget woes

by Susan O’Neill
Sugar Grove’s budget deficit to increase by $100,000, due to state funding shortfall
SUGAR GROVE—The Village Board on Tuesday explored ways of increasing revenues and decreasing expenses, but a recent notification from the state of a $120,000 decrease in funding to the village may force officials to take a harder look at their options.

Although the board’s discussion in September of the fiscal year’s first quarter budget factored in a deficit of approximately $60,000, the shortfall from the state nudges the village’s deficit for the 2009-10 fiscal year budget closer to $200,000, Village Administrator Brent Eichelberger said.

Board members considered various revenue enhancements, including implementing a towing fee for drivers and greater truck overweight enforcement. On the expense side, Village Administrator Brent Eichelberger said that implementing furlough days for non-union village employees would save the village $5,250 per day, but said that would likely lead to a reduction in services to residents.

Eichelberger said the village would send another letter to the police union, requesting that it accept a reduction in their pay for its employees. Earlier this year, the village sent the union a letter asking for a pay freeze for its employees, but received no response. According to their recently negotiated contract, the 12 police officers received two pay increases this year, for a total average increase of 8 percent.

According to Eichelberger, village staffing levels are down 20 percent of what they were a few years ago. The current staffing level of 40 full-time-equivalent (FTE) employees is down from last year’s approved level of 47 FTE. Three village employees were let go earlier this year.

He said that with the pay freeze earlier this year for non-union employees and an annual increase of $713 to employees for their health care benefits, he did not recommend the addition of furlough days, which would come to an average cost of $219 per employee per day.

The village’s general fund still has $1.1 million in reserves. Eichelberger said this amount is separate from the budget, which defines spending for the year, and is similar to a savings account in an average household.