Monticello council hears budget criticism

Monticello council hears budget criticism

Audience members Monday questioned the proposed 2013-14 budget for the City of Monticello, which will be voted on July 22.

The most common criticism came from a general fund that projects about $250,000 more in expenditures than revenue this year. Brian Fulton pointed out the $4.15 million in that category for 2013-14 included a 21 percent increase in salary costs for the police department while cutting maintenance work by 15 percent.

"It is my sincere request that you make decisions to make a truly conservative balanced budget and commit to the projects and improvements that will serve to bring new businesses and families to our community," said Fulton.

Maureen Holtz agreed, saying, "We have a great public works department and need them to focus on maintaining and operating an aging infrastructure, instead of increasing administrative expenses."

City Superintendent Floyd Allsop countered that the budget is only a guideline, as shown by the fact the city spent about $300,000 less last year in the general fund than was budgeted.

He also said the $250,000 deficit actually comes from a doubling of what was spent on local projects in 2012-13. That includes a $118,000 final payment for the truck route project.

"We had that in last year's budget, but because IDOT has not billed us yet, we had to put $118,000 for the final payment on the truck route project" into the 2013-14 budget, said Allsop.

Other proposed projects for the fiscal year that began May 1 include $75,000 for Sangamon River bike trail expansion and $175,000 for groundwork at the new outdoor recreation facility.

Allsop added that the increase in the police budget comes from a proposal to add a full-time officer, which would bring the force to eight full-time officers.

The city also has added Habitat For Humanity and Willow Tree Missions to the list of organizations it will support monetarily. Council members have made a four-year, $25,000 per year commitment to Habitat for Walnut Street residential renewal, and has $5,000 in the proposed budget for Willow Tree.

Alderman John Miller asked if new gaming revenues — projected to generate $30,000 annually — would help defray those costs.

It was at that point some audience members laughed, leading to a rebuke from Mayor Chris Corrie and an exchange with Mike Holtz that eventually led to Holtz being kicked out of the meeting room.

The budget will be considered at the July 22 council session.

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