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Channahon Officials Discuss Budget

Budget meetings took place on Monday and Tuesday as officials consider a zero-based budget.

The budget has been at the forefront of discussions at the Village of Channahon. From the , which will remain at 5 percent through 2012, to the formation of the Citizens Review Commitee, a group of five residents who are going through the budget and offering grass-roots suggestions, village officials are considering multiple solutions to balance the FY 2012-2013 budget.

"For the 2012-13 budget cycle, our staffing levels are what they were in 2003," Channahon Village Manager Joe Pena said.

In 2003, the village had 9,757 residents. In 2012, there are 12,560.

"There's still 3,000 more residents that are in the community that need servicing," Pena said.

At the budget meeting Monday evening, pointed out that the lowest number the staff has ever been at in the village was in 2006.

noted that prior to 2003, staffing levels would be a bit misleading as well.

"Right before 2003, we weren't in this building yet," Cook said. "We couldn't hire anybody else because we had nowhere to put them."

The meetings on Monday afternoon and evening and Tuesday afternoon were the beginning of budget talks for the village. The Citizen Review Committee offered a suggestion after its Monday afternoon meeting that the village staff look into possibly leasing the more expensive items instead of purchasing them. Among those items were technology purchases and replacement police cars.

The proposed budget numbers are $35 million in revenue and $34 million in expenses. There is a $1.2 million surplus.

Before sitting down at the budget meetings this week, department heads in the village considered their own department-specific cuts. For example, the Channahon Police Department decided to waive its membership in North East Multi Regional Training. The organization - known as NEMRT - provides training to officers at a flat-rate of $35 per officer. With 24 members of the police department, the choice saved the village $840 a year. Training is still provided by the department's membership in TriRiver at a cost of $1,200 per year.

The idea of a zero-based budget does not only mean that each of the funds must balance to zero after expense are considered. Rather, it is a reference to how the budgeting choices are made.

"Each line item has to have a justification for what that line item is," Pena said. "It's significantly more detailed than it has been in the past."

Mike March 14, 2012 at 03:35 PM
Leasing items? In the long-run, leasing equipment is almost always more expensive than purchasing outright. From Forbes.com: "Leasing business equipment has two main disadvantages: overall cost and lack of ownership. With regard to cost, leasing an item is almost always more expensive than purchasing it. For example, a three-year lease on a computer worth $4,000, at a standard rate of $40/month per $1,000, will cost you a total of $5,760. If you had bought it outright, you would have paid only $4,000." (I don't know who buys $4K computers, but the example still holds true) The advantage of leasing for business is it frees up cash for other business activities and investments. Public organizations are not putting money into manufacturing items or selling profitable services that have a return on investment. So this freed-up capital would likely just be spent on other items, resulting in MORE public spending, not less. It's like saying "if I put this family vacation on my credit card, I still have all the money in my bank account to spend on other things and I'll make small monthly credit card payments for the vacation." In the long run, you are shooting yourself in the foot. Even small businesses are usually better-off taking a short term loan to purchase the equipment, instead of leasing it. Loan interest rates are often less than what the lease would be. Leasing is for when you need something, right now, and have no means of buying it.
Tim March 14, 2012 at 06:15 PM
The population number being used is from 2010, not 2012. There was recently a story about the declining enrollment in the school district, with the majority of the decline in the 2011 year, continuing into 2012. Added with the fact that I moved out in 2011, and that of the 5 people next to me, 4 of them have also moved out, with 2 of those houses still sitting empty, there is no way that 2010 population number should be used by a village official in public communications. Cook and Pena only have an interest in preserving the status quo, and keeping the money flowing to their friends and cronies. They will keep lying and deceiving you at all costs in order to fool the remaining residents that they need to increase taxes. Using 2010 population numbers is not only dishonest, it is blatant lying from a public official in order to cherry-pick only the data that supports their claim. The village did not 'need' a telecom tax. The village needs to cut its workforce, no matter how long they have been friends with the mayor.
Mike March 14, 2012 at 07:00 PM
I think the problem is Tim, nobody has any idea what the real population might be. I've seen the private websites put numbers for Channahon everywhere from 10K to 14K people. I tend to agree that the number is probably less than the 2010 Census, but couldn't tell you what it would be. Like we discussed in another article a while back, Channahon sits in 2 school districts. With one (Channahon) declining, and the other increasing (Minooka) at last report, it's impossible to even get a good estimate using school enrollment numbers. Even if both districts were decreasing, it's hard to know how much of a decrease would be from which Village - since Channahon, Minooka, and Shorewood all overlap some municipal boundaries and school district lines. I don't even know if the city would know - as an empty house "for sale" is not sold and there is no record of a transaction. For the sake of tax dollars, the census is all that matters, and we've got 8 more years to wait for another one of those.
Tim March 14, 2012 at 08:23 PM
And that is the whole point. There is no way that a village official should be quoting 2010 population numbers as anything to base a fiscal decision off of. The census is not all that matters, the school district shows a decline, which only 'suggests' a decline within the village. To get a more accurate assessment of the population direction in the village, sales tax collected is what would be more accurate to look at. And, as we all know, that is also down. I can not stress enough that my pointing out declining school enrollment is not the be-all-end-all proof that population is decreasing. It is, however, a good starting point to begin to gather information. When looking through other metrics, all pointing to a decreasing pop(not the one run by the village that claims an increase), some being a substantial decrease, it is downright irresponsible to use a population number from 2010 and having it come from an official position in the village. To top it off, it is coming from someone who is supposed to be the administrator of said village. Given the track record of 'mistakes', lawsuits, and criminal charges that have come directly from the people working in this administration, no single resident should believe a word coming out of their mouths. Their lies and mistakes cost the residents money, and the residents keep them in office. They have zero incentive to make the right choices, and every incentive to lie to you. Usually, this is called a vote of no-confidence.

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