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Crystal Lake approves budget, votes to lease vehicles to save money

Crystal Lake City Council approved a balanced budget that includes a new tactic to save funding: leasing department vehicles.
Crystal Lake City Council approved a balanced budget that includes a new tactic to save funding: leasing department vehicles.

Crystal Lake City Council approved a balanced budget that includes a new tactic to save: leasing department vehicles.

Council members voted, 5-0, to approve the budget Tuesday that spends about $89.8 million, a $16,000 decrease from this year’s budget, according to village documents.

A twist on the budget is a new leasing and replacement program for all city vehicles, except ambulances and fire engines. The police department is in need of 10 vehicle replacements.

The goal is to use a fleet leasing program instead of purchasing vehicles outright to improve cash flow, implement replacement schedules and reduce maintenance costs.

The city has 57 vehicles, and it would cost $4.8 million to purchase the vehicles for the next five years, finance director George Koczwara said. It would cost $3.8 million to replace 120 units through the leasing program, he said.

“It’s important we have a fleet that is safe, reliable and provides the necessary functionality at an economical cost,” Koczwara said. “As a vehicle ages, its capital cost diminishes, and its operating costs of maintenance and repair increases.”

Koczwara said ideally, vehicles should be replaced when these two costs meet each other. The city would lease from Enterprise Fleet Management and lease terms would span five years. The city would annually determine how many vehicles they will lease each year and Enterprise would pay for all repairs of the vehicles at local repair shops.

One fleet maintenance position will be eliminated through attrition once someone retires.

The city has budgeted $13.49 million for capital expenditures, including roadway improvements, automotive equipment, computer hardware, information technology equipment, tree replacement, sewer improvements and a water delivery study.

The city is expecting revenue to increase in the upcoming fiscal year because of an increase in sales tax with Mariano’s and Steinhafels Furniture opening.

The budget included the final year of 11.4 percent increases in water and sewer rates that go into effect May 1, when the city’s fiscal year begins.

Additionally, 27¼ positions were eliminated through attrition since the start of the Great Recession. Nonunion employees have the ability to receive a 3 percent raise based on individual performance for the upcoming fiscal year.

More than 70 percent of general fund expenditures go to personnel services.

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