City’s new $125 million budget prioritizes infrastructure projects, building investments

‘We have an obligation to our ratepayers to reinvest’

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ROCHELLE — The City of Rochelle’s fiscal year 2024 budget is slated to be just over $125.5 million, and approximately $70 million is allocated for capital investments and power purchases, City Manager Jeff Fiegenschuh said Nov. 15.

The city manager said the budget varies each year depending on projects. 2024 work will include design work and possibly the beginning of construction of a new electrical substation off Illinois Route 38 West, other upgrades to Rochelle Municipal Utilities electric infrastructure including at its generation plant and running lines underground, a new iron removal plant at Well 8 and wastewater treatment plant upgrades, the 20th Street and Flagg Road intersection widening and reconstruction project, and downtown improvements that include adding and improving parking lots and the addition of a public restroom. 

“It's just a lot of infrastructure and road projects, along with our annual sidewalk replacement program,” Fiegenschuh said, “It's a lot of reinvestment in capital expenditures. We budgeted money this year to redo the locker room in the basement of city hall. That was built when we had less female police officers and we need to be cognizant of that and make upgrades. This is our forever home. Also in the budget is the dorm upgrade at the fire department and work on the fire training facility. It also includes finishing the work on the city's campus at 1030 S. 7th St.”

Fiegenschuh called 2024 a “heavier year on capital projects” across city departments, especially RMU. 

Building improvements at city hall, the fire station and the 1030 S. 7th St. facility are being made to make them inclusive for all city employees and ensure the buildings will be in good shape for years to come. 

“A lot of the city's buildings were built during a different time in history and they're not necessarily conducive to different requirements we have to follow today and different standards,” Fiegenschuh said. “We want to make sure we're updating our facilities so we're inclusive to everybody who uses them.”

Improvement plans for RMU are based around improving reliability for its customers. The Well 8 project will make one of the largest wells in the city able to again provide high-quality water to its industrial customers after the iron removal plant is completed.

RMU will be running some electric lines underground in areas of town where lines are currently in residents’ backyards.

“It becomes very difficult dealing with power outages when you have to drive through someone's yard to get to the lines,” Fiegenschuh said. “Putting those underground will increase reliability and another substation will help with the growth we had to not overload the substations we have already. Varied load on our substations increases reliability and reduces power outages. We have an obligation to our ratepayers to reinvest.”

Fiegenschuh said the budgeting process for 2024 went smoothly and also involved budgeting for personnel, including new firefighters and police officers. 

“Our staff did a fantastic job budgeting,” Fiegenschuh said. “It was a fun budget to work on because we have a lot of projects going on and I'm excited to see a lot of the reinvestments, especially in the downtown and our southern corridor. We're starting to talk in the next 3-4 years here about the Illinois Route 251 improvements and making investments in our northern corridors. There's a lot of good stuff going on. I commend our staff. They did a fantastic job on the budget and a lot of hard work went into it. I appreciate the mayor and city council's support.”