City revenue is down by about $427,000 this fiscal year that what was projected. City Administrator Dean Torreson said the city took in less revenue in four key areas.
The city’s share of sales tax revenue is down about $160,000 compared to a couple years ago. Torreson said that shows people are reluctant to spend money locally, which he blames on the uncertainty at the state level due to Illinois’ lack of a long-term spending plan.
“I think that has affected the university, which has in turn affected us (the city),” Torreson said.
Revenue collected from court fines is down about $155,000. Torreson said that’s somewhat tied to lower student enrollment at Western Illinois University. But, it’s also worth noting that the university has been handling more legal issues with students internally versus sending them through the city or county court system.
Additionally, the city’s share of revenue from parking tickets and towing fees is down about $50,000, and revenue from the telecommunication tax is down about $104,000 from two years ago. Torreson said that’s because few people have landline phones.
Meanwhile, the city’s expenses have climbed by $1.47 million. That’s largely due to climbing costs associated with employee health care payments as well as fire and police pensions.
Torreson said the city has to find ways to trim expenses,
“We are going to look at other ways first to reduce spending by looking at each department and trying to identify programs that are not essential to the mission. Even after we identify all those things – it’s not going to be enough, not even close,” said Torreson.
Torreson said the city will also need to consider reducing its workforce. There are currently about 100 people on the city’s payroll. He said the plan is to try reducing that number through attrition, since some employees are nearing retirement. But, he said the city may also have to consider layoffs.
Torreson is working on the city’s budget for the next fiscal year, which begins in May. Torreson said he expects the budget will be unbalanced by about $535,000.