Members of the Benld City Council on Monday night voted unanimously to adopt a $1.8 million appropriations ordinance during the council’s regular monthly meeting, and seated John Balzraine as a Ward 1 alderman, replacing former Ald. Teresa Tucker who resigned from the council last month.
The appropriation sets spending limits for the fiscal year that began May 1 and exceeds last year’s appropriation by about $600,000, primarily because of anticipated spending from grant funds for a major sewer improvement project on the city’s east side. An application for a federal Community Development Block Grant in the amount of $550,000 currently is pending with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity which administers the funds at the state level.
An appropriation ordinance is not necessarily a budgetary document but it does set the maximum amount a municipality can spend from various line items. Though not a budgetary device, the appropriation approved Monday night does project fund balances at the end of the fiscal year in the event the city spends the maximum amounts authorized by the appropriation.
The total appropriation for expenditures from the General Fund is up slightly from $526,778 last year to $555,1892 for the current fiscal year. Broken down by individual line items, the appropriation for Police is up slightly from $238,119 a year ago to $244,375 this year, which includes $218,160 the city expects to pay to the City of Gillespie for a police protection contract. The Maintenance appropriation also is up slightly from $111,515 last year to $139,000 for the current fiscal year. A total of $70,900 is appropriated for City Property expenses, down slightly from $75,030 a year ago. The appropriation for Administrative costs also is down slightly from $33,305 a year ago to $31,220 this year.
Other General Fund appropriations include $5,605 for the annual audit, compared with $5,000 last year; $20,000 for Legal Fees, compared with $18,000 a year earlier; $4,150 for parks, compared with $4,635 the previous year; $9,171 for Workers Compensation Insurance, compared with $9,225 last year; $12,078 for Liability Insurance, up slightly from $11,409 last year; and $1,223 for Unemployment Insurance, compared with $1,200 last year. The appropriation for the Municipal Band remains the same at $1,300, as do the appropriations for the City Cemetery ($1,300), Library ($310), and FICA ($14,000).
The total appropriation for Proprietary Funds (funds that are earmarked for specific expenses and cannot be spend for other purposes) is $1,195,975—an increase from last year’s appropriation of $703,950. The increase is due primarily to the anticipated receipt and expenditure of the sewer grant funds.
The total appropriation for Sewer is $789,825, which includes a capital outlay of $596,400 for sewer improvements and compares with $107,725 appropriated last year. The Motor Fuel Tax appropriation, used for street maintenance, is $59,500, compared with $52,980 last year. A total of $294,150 is appropriated for the Water Department, compared with $484,225 last year. The appropriation for trash pick-up is the same as a year ago at $112,000.
A summary distributed with the appropriations ordinance shows positive balances in all city funds in the event the city spends the maximums permitted under the ordinance. An ending balance of $437,570 is expected in the General Fund; $102,269 in the Motor Fuel Tax Fund and $188,808 in Proprietary Funds. The Atrazine Fund, from which no expenditures are anticipated, is expected to end the fiscal year with a balance of $278,920.
The appropriation ordinance was approved unanimously on a motion by Ald. Jim Tilashalski, seconded by Mickey Robinson.
Moments after the meeting was convened by Mayor Jim Kelly, the council voted unanimously to seat John Balzraine as a Ward 1 aldermen replacing Teresa Tucker, who resigned from the council last month. Balzraine was sworn in by City Attorney Rick Verticchio and was seated to participate in the remainder of the meeting.
Balzraine’s appointment is valid for the remainder of Tucker’s term which ends in May 2021. Balzraine is eligible to run for election to the seat if he chooses as is any other eligible candidate from Ward 1.
Balzraine previously served on the council as an appointee of Mayor Albert Bertagnolli more than 20 years ago.
LIQUOR ORDINANCE AMENDMENT FAILS
By a 3-2 vote the council declined to amend the city’s liquor ordinance to permit curbside package liquor sales through the end of the year.
Responding to questions from Ald. Robinson, City Attorney Rick Verticchio said the amendment would not be in conflict with state liquor laws. He suggested approving the measure for a fixed period of time and deciding whether or not to make it a permanent rule when liquor license renewals are due. Based on those recommendations, Ald. Dustin Fletcher moved to approve curbside package liquor sales through the end of the year, and Ald. Robinson seconded.
Brought to a vote, Ald. Lance Cooper, Tilashalski and Balzraine voted “no.” Fletcher and Robison voted “yes.” Ald. Brian Frensko was absent.
In other action the council unanimously voted to declare a remaining Dodge police vehicle as surplus property and offer the vehicle for sale via sealed bid.
The council heard a report that the city can begin issuing permits for golf cart usage within the city limits now that a waiver of liability has been received. The city has not yet received signs to mark designated intersections for crossing Central Avenue. Verticchio told the council that until those signs are erected, police officers cannot issue tickets for golf cart users crossing the highway at points other than those identified in the ordinance.