Budget talks begin in Elburn

Department heads must justify proposed expenses
by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Elburn village officials already have begun budget planning for the next fiscal year, with the goal of minimizing an expected revenue shortfall.

“We’re still looking at a deficit budget (for 2010-11),” Village Administrator Erin Willrett said during Monday’s Finance Committee meeting.

The first step in budget planning for the fiscal year, which begins in June, will be for village departments—administration, public works and police—to fill out detailed request forms for any new expenditures. They will be required to thoroughly explain each proposed project or purchase.

Willrett explained the forms Monday and said they will be useful to “get the conversation going” about the budget. She added that the budget requests will be only for expenditures that are absolutely necessary.

“We asked department heads not to submit wish lists this year—items we can live without,” Willrett said.

At trustee Bill Grabarek’s request, discussion about the budget proposals will not be limited to the Finance Committee; the requests also will be reviewed by the Committee of the Whole, which includes all trustees and the village president.

“I’d rather have all the trustees up here,” said Grabarek, a Finance Committee member.

The Village Board will vote on a final budget on May 3.

Last summer, the Village Board approved the current budget for 2009-10 with expenses up to $7.1 million, and expected revenues at $4.6 million. The village had to dip into its reserves to cover the shortfall.

The main reason for the budget deficit is that the depressed housing market has caused building permit fees and utility connection fees to decline, village officials said.

In addition to new-expense requests, Trustee Jeff Walter wants to see a breakdown of staff salaries and benefits so that the Village Board can decide whether or not to grant employee raises for 2010-11.