By Bob Balgemann


MACHESNEY PARK – It’s almost time for the village board to take final action on another new budget. This one is for the 2016-17 fiscal year, which will begin May 1.

Revenue is estimated at $7.068 million with expenses at $6.332 million. But that’s if everything goes according to plan.

Village Administrator Tim Savage and Accounting and Human Relations Coordinator Michelle Johannsen pointed out during the recent, annual budget retreat that there once again will be challenges.

Among them are the lack of a state budget, the possibility of a reduction in the local share of state revenue and a possible economic slowdown. All three could affect the village’s income, which relies heavily on sales tax (44 percent) and its share of the state income tax (32 percent).

Sales tax actually didn’t fare badly during three summers of widening Illinois 173 through the north side of town. Income was flat during 2013 and 2015, while inching up slightly during 2014. Income is projected to be $3.09 million in the coming year.

State income tax is estimated to bring in $2.27 million.

The village is continuing its longstanding agreement with the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department to provide law enforcement services. This year’s contract is for $3.589 million, or 57 percent of the new budget.

Three new patrol cars will be purchased, replacing two 2013 Ford Taurus cars with 97,320 and 77,171 miles on them, as well as a 2007 Crown Victorias, used by detectives, which logged 108,263 miles.

Salaries increased 3.125 effective on Oct. 1, 2015, and the current contract will expire Sept. 30, 2016.

Snow removal; grants

More direct impacts on people’s lives come through money spent on such services as snow and ice removal, along with grants that go to local organizations.

The public works department again has earmarked $500,000 for those important, safety-related services. So far this winter the village has experienced one major snowfall of 16 inches; one storm with less than 3 inches; eight snowfalls with fewer than 2 inches; and two ice events.

Among the 2016-17 grant requests that are under discussion is the Harlem Community Center’s summer parks program, $5,000, same as in the current fiscal year.

In a letter to the village Dawn Busby, HCC programs director, stated the Marquette Slide-Up Playground Program would be offered again this year. It will run from June 13 to Aug. 5 during the weekday hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The summer camp is for those 5-12 years of age and will include activities at Marquette Elementary School and field trips.

Other requests have come from Carlson Boys & Girls Club, $2,000, same as this year; Friends of Machesney, $1,000, no increase, for the summer community festival; Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful Christmas tree recycling, $750, no increase; and Helping Hands Food Pantry and GPS Church Food Pantry, $750 each, no increase.

Reclaiming First is on the list for a donation $25,000. That would be a continuation of the village’s two-year commitment to the effort, which concludes this year. The campaign is aimed at upgrading Rockford Park District recreational facilities, so they once again are competitive with other communities in hosting various sporting tournaments.

And there’s a new entry this year, Special Events, for $2,000.

The village is expected to continue supporting bus service, though ridership has decreased slightly in recent years. There were 27,347 riders during the 2015 fiscal year, with 24,276 utilizing the fixed-route service and 3,071 paratransit. The latter is door-to-door pickup for those who aren’t physically able to use the regular bus.

Ridership in fiscal 2014 was 28,693 total with 24,509 fixed-route trips and 4,184 paratransit.

The public hearing and first reading of the new budget will be April 4, with second and final reading on April 18. The spending plan is slated to be filed with the Winnebago County Clerk on April 25.

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