Budget challenges ahead
The city of Woodstock is expected to have a balanced budget for fiscal year 2012-13 and has plans to abate a portion of residents’ property taxes.
The city plans to forgo the 1.5 percent inflationary increases provided by the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law but extend a levy to account for new growth. The total abated will not be determined until property tax figures are supplied by the McHenry County Clerk’s Office.
“In accordance with the City Council’s highest priorities, the [fiscal year 2012-13] budget includes a proposed reduction to the property tax levy, which in light of the state’s 66 percent increase in income tax rates, provides much-needed tax relief to our residents,” City Manager Tim Clifton wrote in a budget summary distributed to the City Council.
Deputy City Manager Roscoe Stelford said after the county clerk receives the state equalization factor, the city will have a better understanding of the total abatement. The equalization factor is the tool used to bring all property in the state to a uniform level of assessment.
At about $27.3 million, the proposed expenditures would be about $818,700 lower than the current fiscal year expectations. The budget proposes about $26.6 million in revenues, representing a $128,700 decrease from the current year. Although revenues are down overall, Stelford said sales tax revenues have stabilized and income tax levels have increased. He said the city may not see additional income tax money, however, as the state may modify its income tax revenue-sharing model.
While the revenues and expenditures would seem to indicate a significant shortfall, the numbers can be a bit misleading. Grants, developer donations and impact fees were put into fund reserves to pay for associated projects. These dollars are not included in the 2012-13 revenues.
“We’re able to use some of that money now during a very favorable construction market,” Stelford said.
The city has proposed to spend more than $1 million toward street resurfacing projects, Clifton said. Stelford said the revenues for the street work comes from a variety of sources, including but not limited to Motor Fuel Tax dollars and Tax Increment Financing district money.
Clifton said the city continues to operate down more than 20 full-time equivalent positions.
“We continue an effort to maintain current service levels without a reduction [in service],” he said during last month’s proposed budget transmittal.
Clifton said with the recent opening of Kohl’s department store and announcement of Woodstock’s Panera Bread location, an emphasis would be placed on economic development and business recruiting during the upcoming fiscal year.
Copies of the proposed budget are available for public viewing at Woodstock City Hall, 121 W. Calhoun St., and the Woodstock Public Library, 414 W. Judd St. The budget was expected to be approved at the April 17 meeting, which was after The Independent’s deadline.