Elgin’s elected officials and city administration are preparing to enter the final stretch of an increasingly grueling effort to balance a 2012 city budget whose dominant feature is a projected deficit of as much as $13 million.
The City Council is scheduled to gather for several hours Friday afternoon to begin its review of the city’s 2012 spending plan, which originally was to be sent to the council and published Tuesday, Nov. 8, on the city of Elgin website.
As of late Tuesday, however, the proposed budget had not been posted yet as city officials continue scrambling to put together the spending plan in time for Friday’s special Elgin City Council Committee of the Whole meeting.
Since September, rapidly changing revenue forecasts have upset the proverbial applecart. The city opened the year anticipating a $4.5 million structural budget deficit. A structural deficit essentially is a budget gap that can be relieved only through budget cuts and the addition of new revenue or revenue increases.
Over the summer, the city appointed a task force to consider funding priorities and potential sources of new revenue to fill the funding gap. But the Elgin Budget Advisory Task Force’s efforts were upended, even as its two months’ of work drew to a close. During its final meeting in September, task force members learned the projected deficit nearly had doubled.
By mid-October, Kane County informed Elgin officials that property values in the city had plummeted an unprecedented 20 percent in 2011, a byproduct of the Great Recession of 2008. The combined losses in property tax and other revenues will cost the city between $10 million and $13 million in lost revenues in 2012, according to the city’s latest projections.
That meant more work for city staff, which started its budget preparations in midsummer.
The City Council begins its deliberations this week. Following is a rundown of the council’s budget schedule.
- Nov. 8: Proposed budget summary to be posted online, sent to City Council
- Friday, Nov. 11, 1 to 4:40 p.m.: City Council Chambers
- Nov. 16, 5 to 7 p.m. — Before regular council meeting.
- Nov. 28: (optional, council should decide on Nov. 16 if they’ll need to meet on this date)
- Nov. 30, 5 to 7 p.m.
- Dec. 7: Regular meeting, to announce levy.
- Dec. 21: Adopt budget.