CALUMET CITY | City Council members began their process of a line-by-line review of an appropriations ordinance that makes few changes from last year, but also leaves open the possibility for last-minute increases in the days before a budget gets final approval.
The council’s Finance Committee spent Tuesday reviewing a portion of the proposed budget put together by Mayor Michelle Markiewicz Qualkinbush and city Finance Director John Kasperek — including the portions that detailed how much money would be spent on the salaries and other expenses for aldermen, the city clerk and Qualkinbush herself.
Insofar as those salaries are concerned, the total allocated for aldermen was $127,000, with an additional $42,000 for the aldermen who chair committees.
Kasperek said that is a slight reduction because of the fact that the newest alderman, Eric Schneider of the 1st Ward, is paid less than his predecessor, Edward Gonzalez, because he has less political experience than Gonzalez, who gave up his aldermanic seat to be an inspector general for the city.
Qualkinbush said she basically kept most expenditures the same, figuring that aldermen could make changes if they saw fit to increase certain portions of the budget.
None of the aldermen chose to do so on Tuesday, although 4th Ward Alderman Brian Wilson said he wanted to have time to review the budget proposal and be able to come back at a later date and make increases to budget portions, as he saw fit.
“I didn’t seriously think we would complete the budget in three days,” Wilson said, referring to the three scheduled days this week that the Finance Committee is scheduled to meet.
Finance committee Chairman Magdalena “Leni” Wosczynski said she didn't know if there will be time for more sessions to make more budget changes, although Kasperek said such a session might be scheduled for early next week.
As of now, a public hearing on the budget is scheduled for 7 p.m. July 26, and officials hope to give final approval to a budget at the City Council meeting scheduled for 7:30 p.m. that same night. Kasperek conceded that a budget does not have to be approved until July 31, noting that a final vote could be delayed if significant changes are made.
For the total, the appropriations ordinance figures there will be $34.3 million in the city’s corporate fund that covers the daily expenses of municipal government. That is a $900,000 increase from the $33.4 million in the fund last fiscal year.
Kasperek said the entire increase is due to the fact that the city expects to get $1.6 million more in real estate taxes than it did last year, adding that no local taxes or other funding sources are expected to increase.