Day Of Reckoning Budget Deficit Nears

Sometimes it happens after returning from vacation, or the month after Christmas, or even on a Monday morning after a great weekend of fun. It’s the awareness that too much money was going out without enough in reserve to cover it. You can do it for quite a while with the aid of credit cards, but sooner or later, without a doubt, it catches up to you, and you can’t outrun the inevitable.

That’s where the City of Naperville is now with a $6.8 million budget deficit. Something has to give. We either give up services which we are accustomed to, or we all pay more, or both. That’s what Naperville city officials will be looking at and deciding within a short period of time.

We can’t blame the current city council for Naperville’s deficit, since six of the nine are new in position. They didn’t start the financial fire; it’s been smoldering since 2000. Steve Chirico was elected as council member in 2011, and won election for Mayor in April of this year, though not taking office until May. However current council members Judith Brodhead and Paul Hinterlong have been on the council since 2009, and have participated in six years worth of over spending.

Naperville city manager Doug Krieger also had the opportunity to slow down the spending machine, by assertively encouraging the council to ‘pull it in’, but why should he slow the spending when the dollars were plentiful and spending is fun. What makes his situation even more interesting, is that prior to becoming the city manager, he was Naperville’s finance director. That was another lost opportunity by Krieger. Apparently he never read the book by Allan Cohen and David Bradford, titled “Influence Without Authority”.

Krieger’s quick solution is to “get it (cash) from the residents”. Unfortunately that is now one of the unpleasant options. Cutting services is another distasteful option. Doing both is is a one-two punch to residents and businesses alike.

Depending upon how two-year term council members (Brodhead, Coyne, Gallaher and Krummen) vote, it could determine which if any return for another term. People don’t like paying more and getting less. Council members Judy Brodhead and John Krummen appear to be the most vulnerable to losing their seats at the dais during the next election.

Amazingly, city manager Doug Krieger appears insulated from a pink-slip, but just like the over-extended credit card user,  sooner or later, without a doubt, it will catch up to him, and he can’t outrun the inevitable.

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  1. This is another article that basically targets Doug. First since he works at the discretion of city council his actions are limited to what they are welling to allow him to do. $5 million of this budget problem comes from the fact the city pays $12.35 a month per resident for trash collection but only charges them $2 a month. Similar stories are true of the remain $1.8 million, costs not fully, if at all, charged to the benefactor. Previous city councils decided not to increase the financial burden on residents during a time of economic hardship by passing on these cost in full, but the economy is stronger now. This is not a budget deficit but a structural in balance. The projected budget deficit for this fiscal year of $3 million was eliminated by cutting spending on infrastructure so at present (as in past years) our city does not have a budget deficit. The large debt the city is caring is from bonds issued for infrastructure project (when the economy crashed in 2008 the city switch, at council direction, from using reserves to cover these costs to issuing bond, again to prevent financial hardship on residents and businesses).

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