City council: 2023 Budget presentation made

During a special meeting of the Rochelle City Council on Monday, City Manager Jeff Fiegenschuh made a presentation on the city’s 2023 budget.

Accelerated payments for transload center expansion approved

ROCHELLE — During a special meeting of the Rochelle City Council on Monday, City Manager Jeff Fiegenschuh made a presentation on the city’s 2023 budget. 

The total 2023 city budget amount is $106.6 million, which Fiegenschuh said increased due to planned capital improvements and projected increased power costs for Rochelle Municipal Utilities. The budget aligns with the city’s strategic priorities of economic and business development, financial management & stability, community inclusivity and engagement, infrastructure effectiveness & improvement, core service delivery, and quality of life.

"I feel passionately about this budget and I think it's a great one," Fiegenschuh said. "Our revenues remain very strong and our general fund specifically is in very good shape. Major funds with the exception of water are all above approved council policies.”

Fiegenschuh outlined 2022-2023 accomplishments and priorities that included the demolition of Hickory Grove, energizing a new electrical substation on Ritchie Road, implementation of new ERP and asset management systems and continued redevelopment efforts for all corridors.

The 2023 general fund budget projects revenues of $13,405,888 and expenditures of $14,702,934. 

The city’s general fund expenditure breakdown includes 37 percent going to contractual expenses, which is largely made up of power purchase for RMU. Capital outlay makes up 27 percent and personnel makes up 16 percent of expenditures.

Most of the city’s expenses by department breakdown is made up of the police department (32 percent), municipal building (23 percent) and fire department (21 percent). The city has 132 full-time employees.

Capital improvement plan items for the future include a new ambulance, body cameras for the police department, a bridge replacement on Seventh Avenue and phase two of electrical system distribution upgrades.

"Our current financial position and the progress that's been made in this community in the past 2-5 years is a great barometer as to the quality of leadership we have in the city manager and department heads," Mayor John Bearrows said. "And the city council has been extremely supportive of projects that come before us. I thank everybody for the work they did to make this budget work out.”

Debt

The council unanimously passed a resolution authorizing Fiegenschuh to accelerate payment on a promissory note it used to pay for land it previously purchased from the Greater Rochelle Economic Development Corporation (GREDCO) in the amount of three payments of $164,937.50 for a total of $494,812.50.

The city and GREDCO are collaborating on the development of a container yard as an extension of the Rochelle Transload Center. GREDCO has requested that the city deposit the remaining payments into an escrow account for the construction of the new container yard in lieu of making future payments on the promissory note. The accelerated payment will allow construction to begin this fall and for the new intermodal service to begin early next year. The new container yard along with the improvements to the Rochelle Transload Center will add more rail services to the city-owned railroad, which the city believes will bring more revenue.

Alley

The council held a public hearing for and unanimously approved the vacation of an alley located at 507 W. 2nd Ave in Rochelle. 

The property is in the process of being sold and it was discovered there is an alley platted in the middle of an existing structure on that property. City staff conducted an “exhaustive search” of the public record, but could not locate any recorded documents, which reflect that the alley was previously vacated. 

City staff believe that based upon the location of the existing building at the aforementioned address, the alley was or should’ve been vacated when the existing building was constructed. The alley is currently and has, for many decades, has been treated as part of 507 W. 2nd Ave. and as a result, staff believed that vacating the alley was a formality to document a prior vacation.

Proclamation

Bearrows read a proclamation in honor of Veterans Day on Nov. 11. The proclamation was accepted by representatives from multiple area veterans organizations.

"On behalf of all the veterans, we graciously accept this proclamation," Chuck Roberts of the American Legion said. "We appreciate the city for recognizing veterans on Veterans Day."

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