Champaign budget up for approval Tuesday
CHAMPAIGN — City council members this week could approve the next fiscal year's budget, a spending plan that does not include a whole lot of significant changes from last year.
The new fiscal year starts on July 1, and council members have been hearing about the proposed budget for weeks. They could give final approval when they meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Champaign City Building, 102 N. Neil St.
Officials expect they will still need to chop a few hundred thousand dollars in spending, but that is relatively manageable after cutting millions in spending from the budget in previous years, budgeters have said.
Highlights of the proposed budget include the following:
— An estimated 2.2 percent jump in sales-tax revenue, the city's biggest revenue source, by the end of this fiscal year and another 2.8 percent increase in the next budget year.
— Capital improvements, such as road, sewer and library upgrades, will get a $1 million bump after officials spent years borrowing from the fund to pay for general operating expenses.
— A $2.8 million project to improve Windsor Road on either side of Interstate 57 will be made possible by a new 4-cent-per-gallon gasoline tax, which became effective this May.
In other business, the council is scheduled to vote on settlements with three people:
— $50,000 to Gary McFarland of Champaign to settle a claim involving his arrest on Oct. 1, 2011.
— $45,000 to Brandon Ward of Champaign to settle a claim involving his arrest on June 5, 2011.
— $42,000 to Barbara Griffiths for injuries she received when she slipped and fell at the entrance to a fire station at 2315 W. John St. on Dec. 4, 2008.
Griffiths' claim is pending in court and Ward and McFarland's claims have yet to be filed.
Ward's case prompted public scrutiny of the Champaign Police Department after video of his arrest for resisting a police officer surfaced.
Having been originally stopped for jaywalking, Ward was pepper-sprayed by Officer Patrick Simons after Simons brought a discontented Ward back to the squad car and later grabbed Ward's neck while he was in the back seat.
Charges against Ward were dropped by State's Attorney Julia Rietz after Ward's lawyer complained that his client was subjected to pepper spray for resisting arrest.