Paris approves deficit budget

Mayor pledges not to spend more than revenue allows

By GARY HENRY ghenry@prairiepress.net
Posted 5/3/21

Budgeting has two camps about what is appropriate: The budget must balance the revenue and expense sides, or proposed expenses can exceed revenue provided actual spending does not.

The City of …

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Paris approves deficit budget

Mayor pledges not to spend more than revenue allows

Posted

Budgeting has two camps about what is appropriate: The budget must balance the revenue and expense sides, or proposed expenses can exceed revenue provided actual spending does not.

The City of Paris falls into the latter camp, and the city council passed a deficit budget during the Monday, April 26, meeting.

Mayor Craig Smith said the budget projects revenue of $13.4 million and expenses of $16.9 million. He was not worried about the deficit noting this is how the city has budgeted for 18 years. Part of the city’s budgeting goal is to identify all work that needs done just in case extra money is received.

“All of the superintendents know that some of the budgeted expenses won’t happen,” said Smith. “We will not spend more than we take in.”

Commissioner Harry Hughes applauded city administrator Michael Martin and the department superintendents for keeping past spending within budget. The previous budget provided for $16 million in expenses, but the city spent $13 million because that is what the revenue stream permitted.

“There’s not enough dollars to go around to do what we want in our community,” said Hughes.

Staying with the spending theme, the council approved a 3% raise for city employees who are not part of a collective bargaining unit. Smith said the action creates a consistent across-the-board raise for all employees.

Anticipated staff changes at the Paris Police Department discussed during the April 21 pre-agenda meeting were approved.

Sergeant Terry Rogers was appointed to the position of interim/deputy police chief in preparation for Chief Eric Brown’s departure in July. Brown is leaving to pursue other opportunities. Directly related to Rogers’ promotion, the council authorized the board of Fire and Police Commissioners to promote Officer Travis Vice to sergeant.

The council accepted the resignation of Sgt. Roger Finley effective Sunday, May 2.

“It has been a pleasure to have Roger for 30 years,” said Smith. “He is due for retirement.”

The resignation of Phillip Kohlenberg from the department was also accepted. Smith said Kohlenberg’s resignation letter indicates he is leaving for other career opportunities. Kohlenberg was recently demoted from sergeant as a disciplinary measure after an Illinois State Police investigation alleged an inappropriate social media relationship between Kohlenberg and a juvenile. The investigation did not find any criminal activity, and Kohlenberg told investigators he was unaware of the person’s age while engaging in social media conversations.

Commissioner Jerry Branson presented an agreement between the city, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and the Decatur & Eastern Illinois Railroad for resurfacing two crossings on West Court Street. Branson said the work at the crossings near the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post and the old broom factory is to be done at no expense to the city.

“They are long overdue,” Branson said of the improvements.

Martin asked the council about allowing local veterans organizations to resume a Memorial Day program on Main Street by the war memorial on the Edgar County Courthouse grounds.

Council members were supportive of the idea while noting those planning the event must remain cognizant of safety recommendations by health professionals.

“I would like to have it,” said Smith. “I think a lot of it depends on those attending being smart. People need to remember what the CDC says about being in crowds.”

The following payments were authorized during the meeting:    

-$4,009 to 10-8 Video for cameras in the new police squad cars;

- $1,730 to Ray O’Herron for gear needed by new police officer Michael Boyll;

- $105,186 to Lankster and Gore for water line work to GSI;

- $13,662 to Wabash Valley Motor & Machine for a new pump at the sewage treatment plant;

- $428,488 to B&T Drainage for work completed on the Paris-Equity Water Line; and

- $18,026 to B&T Drainage for refurbishing the NAL lift station.