News - Joliet and Will County

Joliet to vote on recession-ready city budget

No tax hikes planned, but city expects more property tax revenue because of growth

Construction barrels line Briggs Street at the intersection of East Washington Street in Joliet.

The Joliet City Council is slated to vote Tuesday on a budget for fiscal year 2023, that the finance director said is designed to accommodate a recession.

The official public hearing for the budget is Tuesday. But the matter also is up for discussion at the council’s workshop meeting on Monday when representatives from the library, museum and Rialto Square Theatre will make presentations.

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The entire budget is $572 million, including the $231 million general fund that pays for most daily city operations like police, fire and public works.

The general fund in the proposed budget contains a surplus of about $200,000, but is down from 2022. Latest estimates are that year-end revenue for the general fund this year will be at $242 million, Finance Director Keven Sing said Friday.

“We’re being conservative in our revenue estimates because a recession is coming,” Sing said.

The budget has been changed from the original proposal presented in early November after council members said they wanted more money for streets and sidewalks.

A lane closure sign sits on recent water line work along East Washington Street in Joliet. Thursday, August 4, 2022 in Joliet.

Another $250,000 was added to the sidewalk repair program to bring it to a total of $1.05 million, Sing said. Another $750,000 was added for city street repairs to bring the total to $7.25 million. The city gets another $10 million in state Motor Fuel Tax funds to pay for street repairs.

There are no planned tax increases, officials said.

The city’s property tax levy will increase 4.9%, although city officials said the increase in property tax revenue should come from new development in Joliet.

“We expect that the 4.9% will be covered by growth or new construction,” Assistant Finance Director, James Ghedotte, told the council during a presentation last month.

The city expects to collect $45.1 million in property taxes in 2023, up from $43.1 million this year.

Property taxes are the second largest single source of revenue in the city’s general fund. The largest is sales tax revenue.

The budget forecasts $59.8 million in sales taxes in 2023, down slightly from this year.

JC Penney at the Louis Joliet Mall in Joliet, Ill.

Other major sources of revenue are charges for services at $32.3 million, state income taxes shared with the city at nearly $20 million, and gaming taxes at $14 million.

The city expects to collect nearly $70 million from water and sewer services, most of it from customer billing to pay for those services. The city’s water and sewer budget is separate from the general fund because it is self-funded.

One trouble area that Ghedotte pointed to last month is the city’s parking fund. Like the water and sewer fund, the parking fund is supported with revenues raised by fees for the service. But the program has had a deficit for years, which will continue in 2023.

The parking fund deficit is projected at $765,000 next year, when the city expects to spend roughly $1.5 million and collect $740,000 in parking fees for the downtown program.

“I would suggest that we’re going to have to deliberate on the parking fund,” Ghedotte told the council.

The workshop meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. Monday. The regular meeting that will include the budget hearing starts at 6:30 p.m. Both are at City Hall.