News Local/State

Urbana Looks At More Spending Cuts For Its FY 2020 Budget

Mayor Diane Marlin and other Ubana city officials discuss their FY 2020 budget plan at a news conference.

Urbana city officials discuss their FY 2020 budget proposal at a Monday news conference in City Council Chambers. Frlom L-R: City Administrator Carol Mitten, Mayor Diane Marlin, Finance Director Elizabeth Hannon. Jim Meadows/Illinois Public Media

For the second year running, the city of Urbana is identifying spending cuts, as it tries to address a structural deficit in its budget.

The city is proposing a budget for the upcoming 2020 fiscal year with expenditures of $59.3 million and revenues of $47.6 million. Urbana officials say the spending exceeds revenue mostly because of one-time capital improvement expenditures that will take place over several years. These include the final phase of the MCORE project, bringing multi-modal street improvements to a stretch of Green Street leading to downtown Urbana; and the first phase of a streetlight replacement project in the U of I campus area;

Urbana’s proposed budget includes $548 thousand in spending cuts, achieved through staff reductions, cuts in library funding and changes to the equipment replacement funding plan. Mayor Diane Marlin says the cuts are an adjustment to reductions in funding from state government, in reaction to Illinois’ own budget problems.

Those cuts created the structural deficit, according to city officials. At a Monday morning news conference, Mayor Diane Marlin said the city began work to eliminate the structural deficit in its current Fiscal Year 2019 budget. That budget also cut funding for the library, and closed down the Urbana Civic Center.

Finance Director Elizabeth Hannon says those FY 2019 cuts eliminated about $500 thousand from a structural deficit totaling $2.5 million.

Mayor Marlin said more spending cuts would likely be needed in future budget years.

“So probably two more years of tweaking”, said Marlin. “But we update that forecast every single year, because there’s so many variables that it’s really hard to say.”

Marlin says the city budget will also benefit from tax revenue generated by new development in Urbana, including five major residential and mixed use projects.

That’s on top of cuts in the current 2019 budget, which included closing down the Urbana Civic Center.

On the other end, Marlin said the city budget would be fueled by increases in Urbana’s package liquor tax and the late fee for unpaid parking fines. She said city finances would also benefit from new development in the city, from new single family homes to five major multifamily residential and mixed-use projects which have either begun construction or been approved for construction over the past two years.

Council members also got their first look at the proposed FY 2020 budget plan at their meeting Monday evening. They also approved the increases in the package liquor tax rate and late fee for unpaid parking fines.

A public hearing on the budget plan is scheduled before the Urbana City Council’s Committee of the Whole, on June 10th. A final budget vote by city council members is scheduled for June 17th.