Cha-cha-changes: Rantoul village administrator makes recommendations in budget address

RANTOUL — The Hap Parker Family Aquatic Center would be closed earlier in the year, two Rantoul Rec Department employee positions would be consolidated into one, an urban planner would be hired, and beautification work in the community would be contracted out.  

Village Administrator Scott Eisenhauer made those recommendations to the village board in outlining the proposed fiscal year 2019-20 budget.

Under Eisenhauer’s plan, the central maintenance department would remain under the oversight of the recreation department.

The budget shows a projected surplus of $10,164 in the general fund with anticipated revenue of $10.664 million and projected expenses of $10.653 million.
A hearing on the budget will be held at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday, March 12, at the municipal building, prior to the board’s monthly meeting. The board will then meet in special session at 6 p.m. March 26 to vote on its approval.

Swimming pool change
Eisenhauer proposed closing the swimming pool the final two weeks of the season except on weekends because of a lack of use.

“There is no question if you go to the pool in May and June and the first part of July it is crowded,” Eisenhauer said. “There are days in June and July where we’re seeing 500 people at the pool.”

Pool attendance averaged 185 people last year prior to the start of school. That daily number dropped to 42 pool-goers after school.

“In 2018, there were six days in a 15-day period when no one showed up,” he said.

But if the pool is open, lifeguards must be present. Eisenhauer said expenses will climb exponentially due to the recent passage of the minimum wage increase.

The pool would be open from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend except for weekdays during the final two weeks of the season. It would, however, be open on weekends during those final two weeks.

The savings would enable the village to buy $25,000 in needed filter media.

Rec department positions
Eisenhauer recommended the village create a full-time recreation employee position rather than continue to employ two part-time ones in the recreation office. He characterized the part-time posts as permanent part time and temporary part time.

“We haven’t been able to get somebody to stay in that (temporary) post for very long,” Eisenhauer said. “It’s a stepping stone for many people.”

But it creates inconsistency due to the constant changeover with the temporary employee unable to have time to learn all of the programs. There is also a problem with someone being present at the rec office during certain times

A full-time employee would take on more responsibility and could help in such tasks as grant writing and doing central maintenance tracking.

Urban planner
Eisenhauer recommended the hiring of an urban planner for comprehensive planning, community planning, zoning land use, Brownfield redevelopment and economic development.

He said a comprehensive plan for the village is needed that includes economic development “but also area planning, whether the east end, west end, downtown, neighborhoods, the airport and the base area.”

Some of that work currently is contracted out, but Eisenhauer said it often doesn’t involve the contracted company being able to see the project through.

He also recommended Grants Manager/HUD Administrator Ken Turner be hired to fill the vacant neighborhood services coordinator while also maintaining his current position. He said Turner had agreed to the change.

Eisenhauer said the consolidation would save the village $72,225.

Central maintenance
Eisenhauer stressed in balancing the budget that none of the $640,000 the village has in reserve will be touched — something that hasn’t always happened in the past.

“In order to fund central maintenance over the course of this fiscal year, we went into the public works reserve,” he said. “There is no way we could continue to use reserve funds in order to balance divisions within the budget.”

Central maintenance handles the repair and maintenance of village-owned vehicles, mowers and other equipment.

Eisenhauer said the village has spent the past six months tracking the workload and the number of people involved in the work projects.

“What we find is there are times when ... the capacity is by far more than the resources available,” Eisenhauer said. “No question there are times when perhaps the capacity is a little lower than the resources we have. The problem is, if you cut the resources, what do you do with those times when the capacity is at 90 to 110 percent?”

The village would then have to contract out for repair/maintenance work, which would be costly.

The board was asked to approve the continued agreement with the park district for maintenance of three park district-owned parks at a cost of $50,000 a year.

Included in that agreement is a provision for central maintenance to maintain and repair park district equipment.

“There had been some discussion about lowering the amount of contribution from the park district,” Eisenhauer said, “But rather than do so, we negotiated adding maintenance of equipment to our agreement.”

The central maintenance budget was placed at about $639,000 with 42 percent of that for personnel and 14 percent more for benefits.

Beautification contract
Eisenhauer recommended the village begin contracting out for landscaping and beautification in the community rather than hire someone to do it.

He recommended the awarding of a $29,850 contract to Deem Landscaping for designing and planting of 22 flower beds and 49 free-standing planters throughout the community.

“It will make it look better, and we’ll have a professional doing it,” he said.

The firm submitted the lowest of two bids for the project.

Eisenhauer said the budget shows an 18 percent increase in projected revenues over last year but also a 17 percent hike in anticipated expenditures. The bulk of both of those is due to receiving two state grants for the rec department totaling $1.1 million.

“Overall, we have almost a $500,000 increase in revenue,” Eisenhauer said.

General sales tax and home rule sales tax funds are up. The two declining revenues are telecommunications (because landlines are “becoming a thing of the past,” Eisenhauer said) and franchise fees that come from cable television.

Taxes comprise the largest revenue source (more than $4 million), followed by intergovernmental revenues (26 percent) and transfers (16 percent).

Personnel costs climbed less than 1 percent while employee benefits dropped less than 1 percent. The cost for personnel is 57 percent of the total budget, which Eisenhauer said is “far below what the statewide average is.”

Capital plan
Village trustee Terry Workman said the village needs to establish a plan for the systematic replacement of vehicles.

“Looking at the list of vehicles in the police department and over the last four, five, six years, last year we didn’t buy any police vehicles; in 2017 we bought one; in 2016 we bought six vehicles; in 2015 we bought two; and in 2014 we bought two,” Workman said.

“That’s not a good plan. We have basically 16 vehicles that are operational in our police (department), and they get roughly 36,000 miles put on them a year.”

Eisenhauer agreed a systematic plan is needed, and has called for the establishment of a five-year capital purchase plan.

The village will also look at housing vehicles indoors to lengthen the life of the bodies.

Looking ahead, Eisenhauer said the village’s biggest challenge is capital.

“We have a significant amount of need and very little resources in order to address capital,” he said.

The budget is on display on the village website and at the municipal building.

dhinton@rantoulpress.com

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