ST. JOHN | Financial matters occupied the St. John Town Council on Thursday during both a study session and the council’s regular meeting.
In anticipation of hammering out the 2014 town budget later this year, Councilman Mark Barenie analyzed department reports submitted by supervisors and made projections about revenue and spending.
Barenie is a chief financial officer of a Chicago-based nonprofit organization.
Some departments, including fire, police and public works, requested promotions for some town employees with accompanying salary raises, Barenie said.
He called his analysis of the town’s financial direction "a conservative approach."
Through June 30, Barenie said St. John’s expenses already have exceeded incoming revenue by more than $200,000.
Other council members, including Greg Volk and Mike Forbes, said the second half of the year historically evens out those numbers as expenses drop and revenues increase.
Revenues from building permits are especially strong, Town Manager Steve Kil said.
“Our building permit (estimate) for the 2013 budget was $236,000 for the year. By June 30, we are already at $265,000. If we stay on this pace, we will be at $500,000,” Kil said.
St. John also will see increased revenue from the property tax levy that’s been unfrozen in Lake County because the County Council approved an income tax. There’s also money that will be in the balance for the countywide E-911 system, he said.
The council debated whether some of the money that comes into the town’s accounts should be used to give employees a modest raise and/or a small bonus one or two times a year.
“There is no question now that we can support raises and should make the bonuses go away,” Forbes said.
Volk said, “I would think employees would probably rather have bigger raises than small raises.”
Volk, Forbes and Larry Gembala said they were uncomfortable using these projections until they see the figures for the third quarter of this year.
The issue of promotions with accompanying pay increases reared its head again at the regular council meeting.
A motion by Barenie to allow the promotions requested by the Fire, Police and Public Works departments was defeated in a 3-2 vote.
“I want to see the third quarter numbers,” Volk said.
In other financial business, the St. John Town Council approved the 2013 Haunted House budget in the amount of $41,000. That’s a $5,000 increase over last year and will be used to increase advertising in Chicago radio markets, Forbes said.
“We saw a pretty significant drop in attendance last year. We need to do advertising to target specific age groups. There are two large haunted houses in Illinois that are now closed,” he said.
The council also approved a $38,222 contract with Metro Excavating Corp., of Cedar Lake, to clean out and straighten the Larimer Park Ditch that runs from 93rd Street to Larimer Park.
A resolution approving the joint interlocal cooperative agreement to put a student resource police officer at Lake Central High School for the first day of classes Aug. 13 was deferred to early August.
Attorneys for the town and school district are hammering out details, Town Attorney David Austgen said. However, Lake Central Superintendent Larry Verracco is on vacation.