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Marengo waits on Bruce Rauner, Illinois lawmakers as new budget year begins

Marengo awaits word from state

MARENGO – City officials are waiting for Gov. Bruce Rauner and state lawmakers, as a potential cut to municipalities’ state-shared revenues could force Marengo to cut into its latest balanced budget.

Taking effect May 1, the city’s newest budget for 2015-16 includes a balanced, $3.89 million operating budget. With revenues staying relatively the same as last year, the city was able to contain expenditures, Assistant City Administrator Josh Blakemore said.

But state lawmakers still are deciding what to do with Rauner’s proposed 50 percent cut to municipalities’ state-shared revenues. If the cut happens as the governor proposed, Marengo would see its income tax revenue drop from about $741,000 to $370,500, Blakemore said.

“We haven’t produced much revenue growth over the last year, so to produce a balanced budget is a nice achievement for the city,” Blakemore said. “We will also continue to monitor the situation with Gov. Rauner to reduce our state-shared revenues because that’s on the forefront for us.”

If the state cut ends as a temporary, one-year reduction, the city likely would use its reserves to mitigate the loss, Blakemore said. If the cut becomes permanent, the city would then have to slash spending in its newest budget.

City officials won’t know what happens to Rauner’s proposal until state lawmakers finalize the state budget later this month.

As it stands, the city’s operating budget includes about $188,215 more in expenditures and $33,109 more in revenues than last year’s budget.

On the spending side, the operating budget primarily assumes personnel increases, as the city continues to negotiate new contracts with its police officers and public works employees, Blakemore said.

Alderman Dennis Hammortree was the lone objector to the city’s newest budget. He said his “no” vote was a protest against various city expenses in the budget.

Capital projects in the latest budget includes funds for street repairs and water main replacement.

In the coming week, construction crews will begin replacing decades-old water mains primarily on Sunset and Willow streets, along with Ann, Ford and Van Buren streets. The council recently awarded a $939,790 contract to Fischer Excavating in Freeport for the work.

City officials also budgeted $125,000 for street resurfacing projects this summer. Blakemore said the city is still finalizing the roads that would be improved.

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