Sycamore City Council takes a look at expected general fund revenues

January 23, 2019

SYCAMORE – The City Council provided direction to city staff during its meeting Tuesday night on how to best move forward on revenue trends and spending priorities for the next fiscal year’s general operations.

The council looked at what it can expect for revenue and expenditures for the general funds budget for fiscal 2020, which runs from May 1 through April 30, 2020. Second Ward Alderman Chuck Stowe was absent.

City Manager Brian Gregory said the consideration for the preliminary budget, which is a balanced one so far, will serve as a jumping-off point ahead of the budget vote in April. He said the city will continue to keep an eye on several variables, including new housing and sales tax revenue.

“Our goal is to bring a balanced budget when we come in in March,” Gregory said.

Gregory said no new expenses are anticipated for the budget, meaning no new full-time hires are taken into account for this budget. He said about three-quarters of the city’s budget is personnel, including salaries, insurance and other benefits.

Gregory said the city expects an additional $42,571 in revenue coming from Illinois following the lead of the decision from Wayfair v. South Dakota, which ruled that states can charge tax on online sales made by out-of-state sellers.

Gregory said it appears a decreased use of landline phones also might have contributed to a decrease in revenue for the city’s telecommunications tax, currently at 5 percent. He also said that perhaps an increase in the tax would be something to consider in the future.

“It’s something to look at down the road and keep an eye on those trends,” Gregory said.

Gregory said the city expects between $60,000 and $70,000 in additional property tax revenue, all of which will go to police and fire pension contributions. He said he’s expecting more revenue from sales and an increased population in the city, but the sales tax rate will not be raised.

Pete Paulsen, 2nd Ward alderman, said he believes the budgeting process for Sycamore has been professional and fair, unlike what other councils in nearby communities might experience. He said he doesn’t expect any anomalies to arise from the general fund budget.

“It allows us to provide services our residents come to expect and deserve,” Paulsen said.

If the council thinks city staff is on the right path, Gregory said, next steps include drafting the budget document. Preliminary assumptions for the water and sewer funds will be covered during the Feb. 4 meeting, the capital improvement plan and capital funds will be covered Feb. 18, special and bond funds

will be covered March 4 and the preliminary budget will be presented

March 18.

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