Naperville has budget surplus
By Hank Beckman For The Sun February 16, 2013 4:27PM
Updated: March 21, 2013 6:13AM
Naperville’s budget situation is improving to the point where City Council will soon have to consider what to do with its budget surplus for fiscal year 2104.
City Finance Director Karen DeAngelis reported to the Naperville Area Homeowners Confederation Saturday that the city’s general fund surplus balance for fiscal year 2013 is $10.3 million.
DeAngelis cited an improving economy for the city’s good fortune, noting that many of the city’s revenues streams are doing very well.
“We’re back to where we were pre-recession,” she said.
Some of the surplus, $4.7 million, is a result of money left over from previous years. But another $5.6 million comes from revenue improvements in fiscal year 2013.
Of the surplus, $4.3 million is earmarked to balance the budget for fiscal year 2014, leaving $6 million for Council to decide where best to spend.
One option is to return the money to the citizens in the form of a lower property tax levy. Another is to use the cash to begin the process of fully funding city pension obligations, which are about $100 million short.
And yet another is to use it to fund items in the city’s 2014 Capital Improvement Plan. Capital improvement outlays for fiscal year 2014 are proposed at $46 million, of which $10.3 million is yet to be funded.
Any of the options could be combined with each other, depending on what the Council sees as the most pressing priority.
The argument for paying down the pension liability stresses that the pension problem is a big issue that the city needs to begin dealing with if it has funds available.
However, although $100 million in unfunded liabilities may sound overwhelming to the average taxpayer, Naperville actually pays more into its pensions than is required, is on schedule to be fully funded by 2033 and enjoys a triple A bond rating, city officials said.
Council member Grant Wehrli noted that the current budget’s cost to the taxpayer was greater for public safety pensions than for the general operating fund.
“We need to do something with pensions,” he said.
Two candidates for City Council chimed in on the subject.
Jeff B. Davis acknowledged the three options available and sees funding the pensions as the most pressing priority.
John Krummen said he would strive for consensus.
“I would sit everybody down and talk about what is the best use,” he said.
The total general fund spending for 2014 will be up approximately $7.3 million, totaling $118 million.
Electric costs for residents will go up 2 percent May 1 and are scheduled for annual 2 percent increases through fiscal year 2016.
Water and sewage costs for the average residential customer will be $76.83 per month, an increase of $6.74 from last year.