The Highland Park town council recently reviewed the upcoming 2022-2023 combined operating and capital budget.
Property taxes and sales taxes were identified as key revenues, whereas key expenditures included compensation, benefits, operations, and capital improvements (CIP).
The report noted property tax value growth of $700 million and revenue growth of $1.6 million.
Two options for property taxes were discussed:
- The first option considered lowering the tax rate to 21.9 cents, adding revenue of $781,000. An expected surplus in the general fund of $400,000 would go toward the capital improvement program to help cover expected inflationary costs related to construction.
- The second option considered maintaining the tax rate at 23 cents by applying a carry forward increment, totaling $1.6 million of added revenue. The expected surplus, about $1.2 million, would also be transferred to the capital improvement program.
Increasing sales tax revenue, largely attributed to Highland Park Village, was reported as a driving factor in creating a surplus in the general fund. However, the sustainability of this revenue source was deemed uncertain due to the economy and Knox corridor development.
Notable takeaways about key expenditures from the report include:
- The report proposed providing updated service credits (USC) for current town employees and cost of living adjustments (COLA) for retirees. The last time these were provided was in 2020 and 2008, respectively.
- In operations, Department of Public Safety overtime is proposed to grow by $330,000 to accommodate retirements and turnover.
- Capital improvements include $9.5 million for general developments like street resurfacing, $5.3 million for water upgrades like water and sewer rehabilitation, and $2 million for stormwater improvements.
However, there remain several unknown fiscal points: the impact of a potential recession and inflation, staffing recommendations per the DPS staffing study, and increasing capital costs.
Members also reviewed an ordinance amending the current 2021-2022 budget.
Town council members proposed using reserves from the technology replacement fund for needs like jail security and tough books, totaling $150,222. For the replacement and remediation of a sewer pump failure, members proposed utilizing the building maintenance fund, totaling $30,325. All funding sources came from the town’s fund balance.
According to the council’s calendar, hearings on the upcoming budget will take place Aug. 16 and Sept. 6 before the budget’s vote on Sept. 13.