Rauner Budget Proposal Would Have 'Catastrophic' Impact on Oswego
Mar 05, 2015 09:10AM
● By Steven Jack
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner delivers his budget address Feb. 18. (Photo courtesy of YouTube Screen Cap)
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s budget address last month certainly grabbed the attention of local elected officials, including that of Oswego Village President Brian LeClercq.
LeClercq recently penned a letter to Rauner and state legislators serving Oswego, questioning the governor’s proposal to cut state income tax disbursements to municipalities across Illinois by 50 percent. LeClercq also urged the governor to "develop financial solutions that do not negatively affect the most efficient level of government."
Rauner’s proposal would save the state $600 million a year as the governor battles a projected $9 billion budget deficit.
“While the state tightens its belt, so too must local governments and transportation agencies,” Rauner said. “The amount of money transferred to local governments has grown 42 percent over the past decade. The state currently transfers $6 billion every year to local governments. Those governments are currently sitting on more than $15 billion in cash reserves. The reduction in local government sharing in this budget is equal to just 3 percent of their total revenue.”
Those numbers don’t add up at the local level, according to LeClercq. In Oswego, the governor’s plan would equal a 9 percent cut to the village’s general fund.
“The village of Oswego is anticipated to receive $2,950,000 in income tax revenues during the current fiscal year,” LeClercq wrote. “This represents 18.1 percent of our general fund budget, and is the second largest revenue source. A 50 percent reduction would amount to a loss of $1,475,000. Such a reduction would have catastrophic impacts upon our community.”
Oswego Village Administrator Steve Jones said Rauner’s proposal presumes local governments have room in budgets to trim. That’s just not the case in Oswego, where cutbacks were made throughout the recession that began in 2008.
“The belt-tightening has already happened here,” Jones said. “As our village continues to grow, we are still down five police officers from pre-recession levels, and 2.5 public works employees. Make no mistake, this will be felt by our residents when it comes to service. If you flip off the switch at the local level, people will feel the impact the very next day.”
The village is currently in the midst of finalizing its 2015-16 budget, and Jones said there are no plans this year to make cuts in anticipation of Rauner’s proposal.
“We will present a budget to the board as if none of this is happening,” Jones said. “If we have to make budget amendments along the way, we can certainly do that. Officials have told us that this is just a starting point, so we might not know until July what will happen.”
Meanwhile, Jones urged residents to contact their local legislators to voice their concern over the proposal.