Bob Balgemann


MACHESNEY PARK – Members of the village board have approved their 2016-17 budget – on first reading – without most donations that typically have been granted to community, non-profit organizations.

But two elected officials, Mayor Jerry D. Bolin and District 4 Trustee Aaron Wilson, have teamed up and are out looking for contributions to replace the now unbudgeted items.

So far, the mayor said $750 has been raised for the Helping Hands Food Pantry; $750 for the GPS Church Food Pantry; and $1,000 for Friends of Machesney Park. The Friends organization will be sponsoring the third Macheshey Park Festival this summer.

They now are focusing on securing $5,000 for Harlem Community Center’s summer program for children at Marquette Elementary School; $2,000 for the Carlson Boys & Girls Club; and $750 for Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful and its Christmas recycling program.

After the April 4 board meeting, Mayor Bolin explained it this way.

He said he was pleased the administrative staff had presented a balance budget in a time when the lack of a state budget  continues to be of great concern to municipalities.

Eliminating the donations from the budget “gives opportunity for individuals to get involved in programs both with donations of money and their volunteer time,” he said.

Anyone interested in helping out may call the mayor or Trustee Wilson at village hall, (815) 877-5432. “No donation is too small or too large,” Bolin said.

The only donation still in the new budget is Reclaiming First, the Rockford Park District campaign to return sports facilities to what they were years ago, which will get $25,000. That represents a continuation of the initial two-year commitment, during which a total of $50,000 was contributed.

Pay raises reinstated

Also at the April 4 village board meeting Trustee Wilson offered an amendment to the proposed budget, restoring 1 percent cost of living salary increases for most employees. The only exceptions are the village administrator and economic development coordinator, who he said were the village’s highest-paid employees.

Wilson said he thought the board “acted hastily” during a recent budget retreat, when it agreed not to grant any pay increases this during the 2016-17 fiscal year, which begins May 1.

Even with the additional cost, he said the general fund still would have an $18,000 surplus.

His motion was approved, 4-3, with trustees James Kidd, Steve Johnson and Robbin Snodgrass dissenting. Mayor Bolin broke the tie with a yes vote.

Then the board approved the new budget by the same 4-3 vote with the same supporters (trustees Terri Bailey, Erick Beck, Wilson and the mayor) and the same opponents.

Second and final reading is expected to take place at Monday’s meeting, with the budget delivered to the Winnebago County Clerk’s office on April 25.

The village’s new budget reflects estimated revenue of $7.068 million and expenses of $6.293 million.

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