The 2009 budget, after a fairly clean and well documented process that serves well as a template for future budgets, passed tonight with little fanfare. Not a wonder, there have been several opportunities for the public to be heard. Every council member had something to say, and listening to it on the audio file seemed to highlight some interesting commentary.
This is out of the order the comments were made. Durkin correctly pointed out the lack of any apparant political agenda in this years process, like that which plagues some other villages and cities around Illinois. He said everyone made sacrifices for things they wanted to see in the budget, like his own leaf pick up program he championed into this years budget, and which got the axe for ’09.
Nuestadt spoke of keeping a close eye on things so that if they got better, cuts could later be reinstated. In particular he referred to the Fire Department Jump Company crew alignments Chief Ruscetti initiated to cut personnel costs this year that generated concern from the rank and file firemen. Schnell followed Nuey, and counseled extreme caution, as no one really knows where the economy will go from here. Waldack rightly pointed out several “one timer” reductions that would be hard to duplicate on an ongoing basis. Beckman complimented staff for thier hard work, and Sandack said this budget respresented an example of good responsive government here on DG.
Although Tully didn’t speak last, his comments were well suited to act as a wrap on the budget work. As Mayor pro tem part of his responsibilities can be to lay out the issue or item being discussed, and in this instance his comments were very incisive and well thought out. He wove a call for caution into a challenge, noting that some of the things cut from this years budget to make it fit maybe should never be brought back, that they were cut and should stay cut. Maybe budgets had reached a breaking point, and that the near term challenge of doing more with less should become the standard operating proceedure; that for the long term good of the village, year after year increases just don’t serve the best interests of the village if it is beyond the ability of taxpayers to pay for it all. While next year may be worse, council and staff, the whole of village government, needed to be vigilant when it comes to money matters, regardless.
Fieldman and Baker seemed to be on the same page, and so far monthly reports have additional budget related information, as well as Filedman’s initiation of quarterly financial reporting acting as performance checkpoints. These actually started earlier this year, and seemed to have helped the entire process of getting in front of the budget beast in time to tame it.