McHenry considers balanced budget

McHENRY – An updated billing system, road improvements, a boat ramp and the engineering for a proposed recreation center and consolidation of the city’s wastewater treatment plants.

The proposed budget that will come back before the Finance Committee at its Monday meeting has some big ticket items in it, but most of the increase in general fund expenditures will go toward raises and higher insurance and retirement costs, Village Administrator Derik Morefield said.

The draft budget totals about $38.6 million, with about $18.9 million of that coming out of the general fund, the city’s main fund for non-utility operating expenses. The budget as drafted is balanced.

The proposal represents a 3.94 percent increase over last year’s total budget and will be paid for using rebounding sales tax dollars, which is estimated to climb 3.1 percent. That nearly returns the city to its fiscal year 2011-12 levels, which was the year Walmart relocated.

The money won’t come from property taxes because the McHenry City Council decided in December to keep its levy flat for a third year.

All city employees are set to take step increases, which are laid out in various salary schedules for union and non-union employees.

Non-union employees haven’t taken a step in four years and received varying cost-of-living increases, averaging 1.3 percent, Morefield said.

This will be the last year non-union employees will work off the step system, he said.

The city has been developing a merit-based system that will be used in assessing next year’s raises, Morefield said. Meetings will be held to brief to the 40 affected employees.

Union members also will get a cost-of-living adjustment of 2 percent on top of the step increase as laid out in their contracts.

One of those contracts – for the union that represents police dispatchers, community service officers and records clerks – is set to expire at the end of the month and still being negotiated.

While many of the city’s larger projects will be paid for using alternative revenues sources – developer donation fees have been allocated to a special savings account for the recreation center and state, federal and county dollars will help with road projects – about $826,000 of general fund dollars are proposed go toward equipment and infrastructure improvements.

They include updated finance, utility and building permit software to replace 20-year-old technology; three squad cars; maintenance and improvements to the municipal center; an estimated $400,000 have been earmarked for the city’s street program; and the extension of Knox Drive.

If you go

The McHenry Finance Committee will meet at 6 p.m. Monday in the aldermen’s conference room at the McHenry Municipal Center, 333 S. Green St.