DANVILLE — Discussions about how to make more than half a million in cuts in the city's budget have already started among city staff, according to Mayor Scott Eisenhauer.
But those discussion won't be made public until late January or early February, he said Tuesday night after the Danville city council meeting where aldermen finalized a property tax levy of $5,986,404 for next year.
That's $382,188, or 6 percent, less than the $6,368,592 the city levied last year and locks the city in to a projected revenue stream that will require cutting expenses by at least $500,000 to achieve a balanced budget.
Eisenhauer said the reduced property tax levy is good for taxpayers in the city who, according to projections, should see the property tax rate stay at $1.97 per $100 of assessed valuation, according to levy approved Tuesday night.
If the city's EAV decreases the anticipated 6 percent, then the tax rate will remain at $1.97. That means, however, that the city will need to pull money out of its general fund to cover costs, like employee pensions, that it normally pays with property tax revenue.
City administration presented other tax levy proposals that would have meant less in cuts, but those options also meant a property tax rate anywhere from $2 to $2.10 per $100 of assessed value. City administration has supported keeping the rate at its current $1.97, and aldermen agreed. The council approved the levy Tuesday night by an 11-0 vote with three aldermen absent.
Eisenhauer said finalizing this levy proposal also means there's a lot of work ahead for city administration and aldermen in deciding what expenses must be slashed. Eisenhauer has said that personnel cuts, whether layoffs or retirements, will be necessary to achieve a $500,000 reduction in expenses, but the goal is to reduce city services but not eliminate any services.
Eisenhauer would not disclose any details of internal discussions about cuts and would not estimate how many personnel positions could be eliminated. He said city administration is continuing to put together a voluntary separation package, or financial incentives, to encourage some city employees to retire. Eisenhauer said the hope is to either not fill positions vacated by a retiring employee or consolidate the duties of that position with another city position.
Once the city administration's ideas are made public in late January or early February, Eisenhauer said, the public and aldermen would have the next few months to "digest" and refine the proposals before the budget is finalized in the spring. The city's new fiscal year begins May 1.