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Local News

Yorkville budget talks bumped due to COVID-19 uncertainty

City council anticipating significant revenue losses

File photo: Yorkville City Administrator Bart Olson talks during the Feb. 25 City Council meeting at City Hall, 800 Game Farm Road in Yorkville.
File photo: Yorkville City Administrator Bart Olson talks during the Feb. 25 City Council meeting at City Hall, 800 Game Farm Road in Yorkville.

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YORKVILLE – Discussion and a vote on the budget for the United City of Yorkville have been pushed back due to the economic uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The Yorkville City Council did not vote on a budget for the city following a public hearing for the budget during the city's first-ever remote council meeting on Tuesday, March 24.

Yorkville Mayor John Purcell said he and city staff will be reviewing everything budget-related for the city. He said there are quite a few things that will have to be looked at again, including possible updates for the city's public works building.

Purcell said the city will be "looking at some real options" that would affect between 5% and 10% of the budget.

"I'm not saying we're going to cut it, I'm not saying we're going to eliminate it, but I think we have to have those options and frank discussions," Purcell said.

Ward 3 Alderman Joel Frieders said he recently saw stories about Elk Grove Village using last year's budget surplus to give a $200 water and sewer bill credit to each residential household as part of the city's coronavirus relief package, along with permit fee waivers for businesses. While the city is not in that type of financial situation, he said, he thinks the city needs to look at its budget and assume that the city will lose more like 25% to 30% of its budget due to everyone being out of work.

Frieders said there are several line items in the budget that the city should be ready to take full losses on, including liquor license fees if half of the city's restaurants and bars don't open back up when all of this is over. He said the city also needs to assume it will not be getting $25,000 in late penalties.

"Because if they [residents] don't have the money to pay, they're going to eat before they pay us for a late penalty on flushing their toilet," Frieders said.

Frieders said the city needs to assume that it might immediately lose 24% of the city's budget due in part to lost sales tax revenue from the COVID-19 crisis, even with potential revenues from online sales tax and cannabis sales that might help offset that. He said he wants the city to start making decisions now to help address that potential budget shortfall down the road and to "start putting on kid gloves" for the city's budget discussion going forward.

"I think we need to start playing with the fact that we are now in 2008 and we should be frickin' terrified," Frieders said.

Yorkville City Administrator Bart Olson said that, under state law, the city has to approve a budget by end of April so that the city has authority to spend in a normal scenario. He said that everything that was planned and assumed for several years regarding projected economic conditions “are all out the window now.”

Olson said the original plan was for the budget was the city being able to fund things that haven’t been able to historically, including road and sidewalk repairs, more public works trucks, more police cars and more vacuums for leaf pick-up.

“So it was a very aggressive capital program that we’re going to have to rethink, given everything that has been going on,” Olson said.

Olson said the city now has to revisit several aspects of its budget, including what sales tax revenue will look like within the city due to COVID-19. He said those talking points will have to be addressed during the city's next meeting scheduled for April 14, but he's not sure about what changes in the budget will be enacted.

“There are just a lot of things in flux,” Olson said. "... We want to make sure that the community is safe first and we will worry about the budget later."

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