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Prussing Proposes “Cautious” 2012 Budget Plan for Urbana

Urbana City Council members will get their first look at their May 16th meeting at a $48.3 million budget plan for the fiscal year starting July 1st.

At a news conference the previous Monday, Mayor Laurel Prussing says spending in her F-Y 2012 budget is nearly 5% greater than in the current year.

Urbana is seeing a slow recovery in sales and property tax revenues, plus money from state highway grants and the new tax on motor fuel, but Prussing said her budget would also dip further into the city's General Reserve Fund. The mayor says that fund should ideally be kept at around $3 million, but the 2012 budget plan would bring it down below $100,000 by next summer.

"The problem is that the revenues are not as great as of the expenditures," Prussing said. "So that's why we had to use our reserves. Obviously you can't do that forever. But I think that's what you use your reserves for, when you're going through a drop in your revenues, and you need to maintain your services."

City Comptroller Ron Eldridge said part of the challenge is that Urbana's modest growth in tax revenues doesn't compare to the drop in revenues it saw with the onset of the recession three years ago.

"Our revenue (growth) is in pretty much what I would call our normal trend, in that 3-4% range," Eldridge said. "The difficulty is that the hole was so deep that ... our revenues fell back to the level they were four to five years ago. We have such a large hole to dig our way out of it, it's going to be difficult to dig our way out of that at 3-4% a year, even though those are normal revenues."

Mayor Prussing said she wants to avoid laying off city staff. To do that, 11 vacant positions would not be filled next year under the budget plan, and wages and salaries would be frozen --- although a police contract is still being negotiated. Urbana's two big road projects for next year would be improvements to Airport Road east of Cunningham ... and Philo Road south of Windsor. The city would also borrow money to make improvements to Boneyard Creek in downtown Urbana.

The Urbana City Council will hold study sessions on the proposed budget on two Mondays, May 16th and May 23rd. A public hearing on the Urbana city budget is scheduled for Monday, June 6th in City Council chambers.

Mayor Prussing said she is also seeking questions or comments on the budget via email at llprussing@urbanaillinois.us; via phone at 217-384-2456 and by mail at 400 S. Vince Street, Urbana IL 61801.

CORRECTION: This story originally stated that the budget would be presented at the Monday, May 9th Urbana City Council study session. Instead, the presentation will be made on May 16th.

Categories: Government, Politics