Proposed State Budget Cuts Will Impact Northlake

A portion of the Illinois state income tax has been shared with local government since its inception in 1969. This was the foundation of the agreement which enabled passage and implementation of the tax in 1969.

This is no small amount. The City of Northlake was scheduled to receive $1.2 million in 2015 from this fund. The Governor has proposed cutting this amount by 50% starting with the State’s fiscal year which begins on July 1. This translates to a cut of approximately $600,000 in the City’s finances. The City’s budget is based on a calendar year, starting January 1, so the budget impact for 2015 will be approximately $300,000.

There is a possibility that the cuts will be reduced or be avoided through the legislative process, but we will not know the final outcome until the legislature wraps up its business at the end of May.

We can not wait until May to see what happens, as we must take steps to insure financial stability in anticipation of the proposed cuts. If the cuts go through as planned, we will be facing another $300,000 reduction for 2016.

Simply raising taxes and fees to make up the shortfall is not the answer as the tax burden on our residents is already substantial.

We will be instituting a number of budget cuts for 2015 in anticipation of the $300,000 shortfall in State funding and avoiding increases in fees and taxes.  The following items have been targeted for savings for 2015:

Elimination of lobbyist  $    36,000.00
Elimination of flower planting/watering  $    10,000.00
Elimination of Northlake City News  $    36,000.00
Elimination of Senior Citizen Dinner  $      5,000.00
Eliminate fall tree planting  $    15,000.00
Reduce seasonal help  $      5,000.00
Eliminate fertilization of North Avenue landscaping  $      4,000.00
Eliminate out of state travel and reduction in Memberships  $      5,000.00
Eliminate senior club holiday party  $      2,000.00
Postpone hiring of 2 police officers  $  151,540.00
Total  $  269,540.00

We will also delay the purchase of some new squad cars in 2015, to save $90,000, as well as replacing the in-car cameras which are not functioning to save $64,000.

However, these are only temporary savings, as the squad cars and cameras will need to be replaced eventually and this cost will only end up being added to a future budget. These items also directly relate to officer safety and can not be put off indefinitely.

We are within striking distance of making up for the cut in state funding for 2015 without increasing fees and taxes. The most troubling of the cuts is not hiring 2 police officers which will have long range effects on the police department. The revenue shortfall is beginning to affect the city’s core mission of protecting its residents and maintaining infrastructure, especially in light of another $300,000 cut proposed for 2016.

There are many who are quick to blame the governor for this situation.  However, the governor has only been in Springfield for about six weeks. The State Legislature passed the 2015 budget with an over $2 billion shortfall. In the larger picture, this is a bi-partisan financial mess which has been percolating for over 30 years under governors and legislators of both parties. It will take both parties to resolve this situation, or else we will be facing more drastic cuts at the local level.

If the 2016 cuts go through as planned, more items will face the chopping block, such as Northlake Days and Boofest, before we consider raising taxes and fees or laying off police or public works personnel. We will monitor the situation and will make adjustments as matters progress in Springfield toward the final action.

I urge you to contact our State Representative, Kathleen Willis, at 112 N. Wolf Road Northlake , IL  60164,  phone: 708-562-6970, State Senator Don Harmon, at 6933 North Avenue, Oak Park, IL  60312,  phone:  708-848-2002 and Governor Rauner at Office of the Governor, 207 State House, Springfield, IL 62706, phone: 217-782-0244, and express your opinion on these cuts to local government and urge them to find a bi-partisan solution to Illinois’ financial mess.