Friday, March 19, 2010

Pingree board backs fireworks, not tax hike

DATE:  March 17, 2010
BY: RYAN KLASSY For Sun-Times Media
DETAILS: The village board faced some tough decisions Monday night as it considered how to reduce a budget deficit of $225,000.

Members already managed to reduce a previous budget draft's deficit from $509,889 by making what Village President Clint Carey called "significant cuts that will affect the level of services to our residents."

Carey referred to cutbacks in the village's building department that may mean longer waits when it comes to requests for home improvement project permits or approval of projects. The board also is considering saving more than $30,000 by reducing or eliminating village events, along with the staff position responsible for planning those events.

Unless the events could be held on a volunteer basis with private funding, those cuts would mean an end to activities such as the craft show, music in the park, Christmas tree lighting, the community garage sale, and the village's most widely attended event -- the Fourth of July fireworks show.

"We need to get the budget deficit as close to zero as possible," said Trustee Ricky Popilek, who despite his fondness for the event is in favor of eliminating the fireworks show.

"We just don't have any information that things are going to get better in any category in the near future, so we need to do what we can now," he said.

Resident Gary Meyer, who has lived in Pingree Grove since 2005, expressed disappointment with the idea of eliminating village events.

"I know that the board needs to make cuts, but I think that it's a mistake to eliminate our events," he said. "Events are important to the people in our village, whether you realize it or not. It's a way of people in the community communicating, meeting each other and meeting new people."

Trustees asked for staff to make changes to the next budget draft to include the annual fireworks show, which cost the village a little more than $16,000 last year. Other planned cuts to the events budget likely will remain.

Tax hike defeat
Popilek made a motion to increase the 1 percent telecommunications tax paid by village residents to 6 percent. This is a tax paid by users of telephone land lines and DSL connections. The village receives about $14,400 per percentage point of the tax. But the proposal, which would have meant an estimated $86,400 in additional revenue this fiscal year, failed, with only Popilek and Trustee Larry Gille voting in favor of it.

Trustee Greg Marston, who did not favor eliminating the fireworks show, was equally unmoved when it came to raising taxes. "I think we have missed an opportunity to eliminate other unnecessary expenses," Marston said. "It's not an easy decision."

Trustees asked village staff for more information on other revenue sources, including a natural gas utility tax, an overweight-truck monitoring program, and leasing out village land for cell tower use.

The board does have at its disposal funds raised through impact fees, which are paid by developers as a way of offsetting the additional costs for public improvements and other impacts that new communities have on existing services. However, the board hopes to wean the village off that revenue stream and make a transition to being more self-reliant and sustainable.

The board will have at least two more meetings on its proposed budget, including its regularly planned board meeting on April 5 and a public hearing sometime in April. A final budget is expected to be approved before the start of the new fiscal year, which starts May 1.

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Choosing Tax Cuts Over Deficit Reduction
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highheels wrote:
About the building dept...I believe this fiscal year they have had around 90 new home permits, a shopping center and a bunch of decks and patios, etc. It was run by 2 people....that doesn't seem excesive to me. Pingree Grove is a town of over 4000 people and requires full services, it is not a town of a 125 people it or not
3/17/2010 1:55 PM CDT on
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alex79 wrote:
The salaries of the PD have been cut, along with salaries of other departments. Also, I am sick of hearing we have no crime...please FIOA the monthly Police Reports, like I did. We have no crime because we have good police.
3/17/2010 11:42 AM CDT on
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monnat96 wrote:

Why don't we look into the salaries of the village employees including PD? As for the craft fair and garage sale, how much money could these events cost the village?
Also, why don't these F/T cops sit on route 47 and ticket speeders or reckless drivers, that would definitely bring in revenue.
Forclosures will definitely increase in the community if there is a tax hike. Taxes are killing us now, especially with the SSA. Just curious....does anyone know how many foreclosures there are in Cambridge Lakes???
3/17/2010 8:32 AM CDT on
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taxpayer1 wrote:
It's not a revenue problem so much as a spending problem. There's virtually no building going on, yet the village pays for a full time building dept. No crime, yet a full time police dept. Events? If you want to meet people, just go out & meet them. Why should tax money pay for this? How many foreclosures now? How many more once they increase taxes to the point that only the wealthy can afford them?
The piranhas will soon have to feed off each other.
3/17/2010 7:31 AM CDT on
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cherokee ppl wrote:
3/17/2010 5:34 AM CDT on


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