By Bob Balgemann


MACHESNEY PARK – It has been said that most people will be content if their garbage is picked up regularly, and their streets are free of ice and snow in a timely manner.

The village of Machesney Park, like other municipalities, has an annual budget that relies to a great extent on tax money received from its residents. Elected and appointed officials decide how that money is divided among a whole litany of services.

This village recently adopted a new budget that anticipates taking in $7.068 million and spending $6.293 million during the 2016-17 fiscal year, which began May 1 and will end April 30, 2017.

Most of the revenue comes from sales tax and a share of the state income tax. Salaries of various employees and those who work for others through outside contracts for service take the majority of those dollars. There are some big-ticket items, such as law enforcement, which takes more than $3 million each year.

But there are many other expenses, much smaller than what it paid to the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department for police protection. And some of those costs are for services that are highly personal.

There’s the $174,600 set aside in the public works department appropriation for another year of fixed route and paratransit bus service. While many have vehicles and drive to work and other locations that are part of life, quite a few rely on the bus to do the same thing.

Some buses follow the same route each day, while others pick up people at home, who are physically unable to get to bus stops.

Since incorporating as a village in 1981, Machesney Park has been successful by contracting for a number of services.

Animals, mosquitoes

One of them is animal control, which is provided by Winnebago County. There occasionally is a problem with a stray, a barking dog or a neglected animal in the neighborhood. That’s part of what animal control is all about, at a cost this year of $52,500.

Mosquitos can be a bother and sometimes a health concern during a hot, rainy summer. The village schedules sprayings at varying times to keep those pests under control. The cost: $25,600.

Mowing rights of way and unkempt lots that don’t get sufficient attention from their owners keeps workers busy during the summer. That can be an aesthetic issue, sometimes a safety issue.

This year the total cost is projected to be $51,000, with $11,000 of that being shifted from public works to the community development department, for tracking purposes.

Sometimes the village is forced to mow the property of an owner who doesn’t take care of it. Hence the name, “force mow.” Officials want to know if the lien placed against the property covers the cost of the work.

One of the most personal line items has to do with grants the vilage gives each year to non-profit organizations that serve hundreds of people from all around town. For 2016-17, the board has agreed to contribute to the following: Harlem Community Center, $5,000; Young at Heart, $2,500; Helping Hands Food Pantry and GPS Church Food Pantry, $750 each; Friends of Machesney Park, $1,000; Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful, $750; and the Carlson Boys & Girls Club, $2,000.

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