Wednesday, July 15, 2009

South Beloit mayor: ‘We will have a balanced budget’. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- By Katie Backman RRSTAR.COM Posted Jul 15, 2009 @ 01:41 PM -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- SOUTH BELOIT — .South Beloit leaders suggest postponing some fire and police equipment expenses to the next fiscal year in an attempt to narrow the $750,000 shortfall in the 2009-10 budget. The shortfall is a result of the city’s dipping sales-tax revenues for the past two years. Sales tax would normally generate $1.2 million but is expect this year to only generate $925,000. The city has about two months before the budget needs to be submitted to the state. Several commissioners suggested at Tuesday’s budget meeting removing the $25,000 for a new Police Department squad car. The squad car they want to replace still is functional and safe and it could be in the best interest of the city budget to wait a year, Commissioner Bob Stone said. Squad cars typically last three or four years and reach more than 100,000 miles. The oldest squad car is an early 2000 model. Elected officials also will review the Police Department budget of $72,100 overtime. For fiscal 2008-09, the department budgeted $70,000 of overtime and the actual expenditure was $62,413. The proposed cost of overtime can be cut, Mayor Randy Kirichkow said. The nature of the job requires overtime, but that amount is a high projection, he said. Police Chief Tom Fearn agrees, but says “creating a budget is like looking in a crystal ball, we try to project what might happen.” Police officers work 12-hour shifts, which is 80 hours per two weeks, he said. The city is having a budget shortfall and the department is willing to be flexible, Fearn said. Commissioners also are considering eliminating funding for new Fire Department extrication equipment, which costs about $28,960. Fire Chief Ken Morse said during a June meeting the department could benefit from new extrication equipment because its lighter and easier to manage. However, the existing equipment still is functional. Elected officials also suggested trimming the city’s portion of an Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development grant. The city must show it has the funding to cover the OSLAD park project, but eventually the grant will reimburse about 50 percent of the project’s costs to the city. City leaders had allocated about $450,000 for the grant. Commissioner Pam Clifton suggested making payments for the grant instead of allocating the entire cost. City leaders lowered the grant allocation to $150,000. South Beloit might implement a $500 fee for video-poker machines. The city had 44 machines, but one gas station removed the games during remodeling. Now the city has 36 machines. The annual fee would generate about $18,000. Another possible fee increase would be an annual charge for residential garbage collection. The city pays about $266,000 for garbage collection and a $2 to $3 fee could generate about $75,000. Factoring in all of the proposed cuts and increases, the city’s shortfall is at about $250,214, Kirichkow said. He said the city could still remove all the grant funding, which would bring the shortfall to $100,214. “We will have a balanced budget,” Kirichkow said. “There are some areas that can be cut.” Staff writer Katie Backman can be reached at or 815-987-1369. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------