FULTON, Ill. — Expecting to find ways to either save or generate money to cover a $3,386 shortfall, Fulton city officials on Monday voted to approve the Fiscal Year 2015 budget despite it being unbalanced.
City Administrator Ed Cannon projected the city will be able to make up that difference in the nearly balanced budget with additional savings or increased revenue, but if not, they will be forced to pay the remainder out of the general reserve fund, a decision some council members did not like.
"What I have a problem with is that we have $30,000 (in video gaming revenue) going to parks when we have an unbalanced budget," Fourth Ward Alderman Howard Van Zuiden said. "I don't like voting for a budget that isn't balanced."
Regardless of his reservations, Van Zuiden joined five other alderman who voted in favor, a 7-1 vote, of approving one portion of the three-part budget.
The other two pieces of the FY2015 budget also were approved on a 7-1 vote and were broken down into two specific parts.
The first dealt with a city employee salary increase of 3 percent.
While all council members agreed that city employees deserved a wage increase, alderman Randy Boonstra and Mayor Larry Russell were reluctant to the raise because of staffing cost increases that continue to trend upward.
"I recognize that this is an emotional issue for a lot of people, but I'm trying to look at it, not from an emotional perspective, but as for what the city can afford," Boonstra said.
According to figures Boonstra presented to the council, wages and insurance costs for city employees accounted for 58 percent of last year's budget. As those expenditures increase, the money used from the city's budget will increase.
He anticipated that with a continued 2 percent increase each year to both the employee wages and insurance, by 2020, 70 percent of the city's budget will be allocated to those expenses.