In spite of a rough winter and some unexpected expenditures — like the spot purchase of a new 16-space parking lot last fall for $25,000 — the village of Forest Park’s final expenditures came in under budget, said Administrator Tim Gillian. The village finished the year with about $100,000 to spare, he said.
The village council and department heads from the fire, police, community center and public works departments met, May 15, for the first budget discussion of fiscal year 2015.
The village can look forward to a couple of areas where more money is expected to come in this year, Gillian said. First, the half-cent increase in sales tax, which passed in a March referendum, kicks in July 1. That’s expected to bring in around $900,000, earmarked for infrastructure upgrades.
Another source of revenue this year is the massive vehicle ticket-collection program for unpaid tickets via Illinois tax refunds. Mayor Anthony Calderone told the village council the program has received $362,000 in outstanding parking violations through the Local Debt Recovery Program. That money is shared with collection agencies. The mayor warned that the first year of the program cleaned out a backlog of violation fines and was unlikely to bring in anywhere near as much in the future.
A third hopeful sign for more cash coming into village coffers are building permit and property inspection fees.
“Things are picking up. People are transferring houses,” Gillian said. “The real estate market is moving again and people are starting to spend money on homes again. And that means they’re buying things and our sales tax goes up.”
Another place the village has been saving is through the recently converted LED streetlights, said Gillian, noting that energy costs on the lights had fallen about 15 percent and maintenance costs dropped practically to zero after the village installed the new lights.
Gillian said he was slowly building a capital fund by taking 2 percent increments of revenue as they came in. The fund has $35,000 right now, he said.
Commissioner Rory Hoskins asked if traffic-calming streetscapes could be budgeted near the schools in the 1000 and 900 blocks of Beloit Avenue and the 500 block of Hannah Avenue.
Calderone said the village engineers had projected costs of roundabouts to be around $15,000, which he called “very reasonable.”
Gillian said Christopher Burke Engineering was working on some traffic proposals which will be presented to the village council soon.
The mayor requested $50,000 for his new economic development project. He met with business owners in April to try to work on a plan to market the community and “not let opportunities pass us by.”
Infrastructure, sewer overhaul
Gillian said Burke Engineering was working with staff to create a plan for a sewer and infrastructure overhaul. Last April the mayor told the village council that village engineers were working on a plan to disconnect the village’s combined sewer system from the network of regional sewers in the area.
“I’d like to consider a tiered approach, or a phased-in approach, do one section of town now and systematically move to another section,” Mayor Calderone said last April.
This article has been updated to clarify that the village collects property inspection fees from property transfers.