ROCHELLE — By a unanimous vote Monday night, Rochelle City Council approved the 2020 budget. And for the third year, that budget has been balanced.
Going into Monday night’s meeting, Rochelle Mayor John Bearrows opened the meeting with several statements, including one pertaining to the agenda item of approval of the city’s 2020 budget.
“I just want to thank the city manager, staff and all the department heads that worked so very diligently to get a balanced budget this year. I know there were projects that were cut, there were projects that were added and they did a lot of work prioritizing, they put in an extremely large amount of hours into working on the budget,” he said. “We’re very happy that this is the third year in a row that we’ve had a balanced budget. When you look at the numbers they are not exactly balanced but the reason that is, is because there are some projects that are going to be paid for with reserve cash rather than tax money, it’s reserve cash. It is a balanced budget. That’s pretty impressive that in this day and age we can have a budget like we have and have it balanced, that’s very commendable.”
The final proposed 2020 General Fund revenues are budgeted at $11,210,836, representing an increase of approximately 2 percent compared to the approved 2019 budget. Budgeted expenses total $11,158,089 which is approximately 2 percent higher than the 2019 budget resulting in a budget surplus of $52,747.
The combination of the General Fund, Special Revenue Funds, Enterprise Funds, Internal Service Funds, Trust and Agency Funds and Capital Project Funds results in budgeted revenues of $83,969,264 and budgeted expenses of $91,944,101.
City manager Jeff Fiegenschuh highlighted several aspects of the budget including $645,000 in the General Fund for capital outlays, $57,764,000 for enterprise funds of which $18 million is for capital projects and filling one vacant police position and two vacant street positions.
He also noted that 53 percent of the General Fund expenditures is used for public safety and, if including the street department, it’s approximately 75 percent, which about average for a city of Rochelle’s size.
“We did budget conservatively for small increase in sales tax primarily due to some of the growth we see specifically with Pilot coming on, [and] hopefully this next year with Love’s coming on,” he said. “Transfers to the corporate fund did go down this year. If you remember, last year we had a large transfer from the landfill fund for the improvements at city hall, obviously that project is done with a one time transfer.”
Fiegenschuh added that a large percentage of revenue comes from the sale of the city’s electricity to industrial businesses.
“If you look on the electric side, 67 percent of our revenue comes from industrial. We should see some revenue increases this year because of the MightyVine expansion. If you remember, the more power we purchase over 30 megawatts power, the lower our cost overall so we want to continue to grow our electric utility because that is a benefit to our residents as a whole,” he said. “We do transfer 5 percent of those revenues back to the General Fund so the more electricity we sell, not only does it benefit the electric utility, it also benefits the General Fund.”
Overall, Fiegenschuh is pleased with the city’s 2020 budget.
“It’s a $91 million budget, I’m very happy with it. It’s balanced on the General Fund side. Staff worked hard to come up with this proposal. This is the most important thing you do,” he said to council members. “Passing the budget is the blueprint for where we are going to go in the future and I think everything we’ve done follows with the strategic plan and the strategic priorities that you set forth for staff.”