GENEVA – Aldermen will consider approving a $128.3 million budget for 2023-24 at the next City Council meeting Feb. 6, following a public hearing.
The city’s 2024 fiscal year begins May 1.
The proposed spending plan represents a $15 million increase from last year’s 2022-23 budget of nearly $113 million. The increase comes from several revenue sources, such as $1 million more in motor fuel tax revenue, $2.9 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds and $8 million more in the electric fund, records show.
The budget plan proposes undertaking more than $14 million in capital projects.
“I daresay, we’re in good fiscal shape, but that is one of the reasons why we are recommending so much expenditures into capital because capital is where we have been lacking for so long,” City Administrator Stephanie Dawkins said at a special Committee of the Whole meeting Jan. 17.
“If we do not invest in our infrastructure, and invest in our capital, in our built environment, the rest of it doesn’t matter,” Dawkins said. “Because what’s going to happen is you’re going to have some catastrophic failure that might have been prevented but we were afraid to spend the money we had to fix it. Really, that’s what keeps me up at night.”
The recommendation is to transfer $3.8 million from the general fund to capital projects for the fiscal year 2024 budget and a transfer of nearly $4 million in the fiscal year 2025 budget, records show.
Some of the $2.9 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds the city received will be used to replace lead lined water mains and service lines, facility improvements, storm water and drainage projects and downtown reinvestment in infrastructure improvement, Dawkins said.
Other capital expenditures include machinery and equipment, building improvements and vehicles, documents show.
Expenditures at the end of a fiscal year may be below the budgeted amount, Dawkins said, and that is by design.
The portion of the budget where most of the city’s spending comes from is the general fund, which is to have $20.7 million for fiscal year 2023 with a recommended budget of $24.3 million for fiscal year 2024, Dawkins said.
The general fund had nearly $21 million for fiscal year 2022, records show.
Sales tax revenue went from $5 million in 2021 to $6.2 million projected for next fiscal year, all as a result of the Leveling the Playing Field Act that went into effect in January 2021, Dawkins said.
“We call it the Amazon tax,” she said, referring to sales taxes collected from online purchases.
“Sales tax is the largest source of revenue to the general fund or 24%,” Dawkins said.
The city gets 1% revenue from the state’s share of sales tax, and a 1% sales tax as a non-home rule city, with half going to the general fund and the other half for capital projects, plus $3.25 million in state income tax, records show.
The estimated property tax rate for 2022 – to be collected in 2023 – is 0.5123 per $100 equalized assessed value, or a 1.8% increase over the 2021 property tax rate of 0.509323 per $100 of taxable assessed value, Dawkins said.
That translates into a rate of nearly 51 cents per $100 EAV in 2021, to a little more than 51 cents for 2022, per $100 EAV, officials clarified in an email.
Other transfers from the general fund include $10,000 each to the Cultural Arts Commission and Beautification.
“The budget is a planning document,” Dawkins said. “Our theme is Building our Future. … Many often mistakenly believe that the budget is a forecast of what the local government expects to spend. While that may be true, the reality is that the budget is the maximum amount that is allowed to be spent absent approved amendment.”
The theme is based on what officials determined was most important while at a strategic planning session last fall:
• Excellent municipal services, including equipment, infrastructure and facilities.
• Economic vitality by developing a resilient local economy through development of new commercial and industrial opportunities.
• Environmental stewardship for long-term sustainability and to reduce the city’s carbon footprint.
• That Geneva is recognized as inclusive and welcoming to all ages, backgrounds abilities and ethnicities.
• That Geneva promotes active lifestyles, ensuring a safe environment for bicyclists, pedestrians and access to natural areas.
The draft budget is on the city’s website at www.geneva.il.us.
The budget presentation is also on the city’s website.