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City of St. Charles Doing More With Less

Projections for the current fiscal year show that the City will end the year with an estimated expenditure level of $40.2 million, approximately 6% lower than the fiscal 2008 level.

The City of St. Charles has commenced the process of preparing the FY12-13 budget. Over the next few weeks, city staff will be working dutifully to compile the budget and present it to the City Council for approval.

Frequently, I hear comments that the City needs to “be like the private sector and learn to do more with less.” Certainly in these challenging economic times it is absolutely essential for governments to be good stewards of public tax dollars.  What concerns me, however, is that residents may not be aware of the extent that the City of St Charles has indeed learned to “do more with less” over the last few fiscal years.

For instance, did you realize that during the period between April 30, 2008 and April 30, 2010, the City cut $5 million in expenditures from the General Fund Expenditure levels fell from $42.7 million in 2008 to $37.7 million in 2010.  This represents an 11.9% reduction in General Fund expenditures during that 24-month period. This reduction was highlighted by a wage freeze that each and every employee of the City took during fiscal year 2009-2010.  This resulted in over $1.2 million of savings to the taxpayer. Other measures undertaken were suspension of the spring clean-up program, elimination of travel and training, deferral of vehicle replacement funding, and deferring or eliminating various capital and maintenance projects.

The City continues to benefit from these expenditure reduction efforts. City expenditures in the General Fund for fiscal year 2011 were just under $40 million or $2.7 million lower than they were in 2008. That equates to a 6.30% reduction. Additionally, the City has eliminated the equivalent of 54 full-time positions from its payroll. This 16% staffing reduction was achieved through attrition of positions and did not involve layoff of employees.

Projections for the current fiscal year ending April 30, 2012 reflect that the City will end the year with an estimated expenditure level of $40.2 million, approximately 6% lower than the fiscal 2008 level. This would mark the fourth consecutive fiscal year that expenditures would be lower than the fiscal 2008 level. Additionally, this represents a miniscule 0.5% increase in expenditure levels over fiscal year 2011.

The City has managed its revenue sources in a similarly prudent manner. For calendar year 2012, the City is maintaining its operating property tax levy at a consistent level of approximately $12 million for the third straight year. This means that the City is not asking its taxpayers to pay more in property taxes to the City for the third consecutive year. Many property owners have seen the City portion of their property tax bills decline.

The City’s fiscal responsibility was noted by Moody’s ratings service which affirmed the City’s Aa1 debt rating in September of 2011.  Moody’s cited “strong financial operations and solid reserve levels,” as well as noting in its report the City’s “demonstrated history of reacting to budgetary challenges.”

The City’s guiding fiscal principle during these challenging economic times has been to “match our expenditure level to the level of our revenues.” The attached table reflects just how successful those efforts have been.

Everyone has been impacted by these challenging economic times. Recognizing and reacting to the situation in a timely manner has been essential to the City’s ability to maintain its fiscal health. We have quietly and efficiently gone about the business of reducing expenditures to coincide with the level of revenues expected.  This process has been so quiet and efficient, you may not even have been aware it was occurring.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

John Hrivnak January 18, 2012 at 01:44 PM
City leaders of today and of the past - sincere thanks for your stewardship. Know that your efforts to not only contain, but reduce costs are appreciated. Know also that your work is not done... especially not in this economic climate of a President who has already spent more than all who preceded him and wants to spend more and in this economic climate of the state of Illinois that seems to want the honor of being the worst state in which to do business, raising the costs of everything from highway tolls (that were to go away) to parking meters, to retail sales taxes to... St. Charles just might be a beacon of rationality in the midst of this current economic darkness. May our leaders continue to shine so brightly and may this become contagious. Thanks again.

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