There's good and bad news for many regarding Mayor Tom Weisner's proposed 2010 City of Aurora Budget.
Bad news...if you support wild government spending that keeps growing and growing, there will be about 15% overall less and most of the ward slush funds have been eliminated.
Good news...if you are one of the taxpayers of the City of Aurora who wants to see government spend less, this budget is the first major step in that direction.
* Overall budget is $350 million ($349,590,743)
* Spending cuts are approximately 15.4% or $31 million
* Overall estimated revenue is $332 million
* General fund budget is $142.8 million (4.9% reduction)
* Departments (except police/fire) must trim 15% expenses
* Projects such as RiverEdge Park and GAR restoration on hold
* Cuts in festivals, special events, public art commission
* Ward slush funds reduced from $580,000 to $40,000 each
* Labor costs account for 80% of expenditures
* City staff reduced 6.3%
Ward funds (aka "slush funds"), which come from the declining gaming tax, were supposed to be for neighborhood improvements such as streets, but in recent years, they increasingly became open-ended checkbooks for certain alderman to donate here, there and everywhere.
4th Ward Alderman Rick Lawrence had proposed limiting the ward funds to $20,000 each and focusing the rest of the funds on streets and infrastructure. While the Finance Committee kept the matter in limbo, Mayor Weisner took the step to implement Lawrence's suggestion.
Funds will now be limited to $40,000 per ward. A minimum of 50% or $20,000 must be used for infrastructure such as street lights and sidewalks. The remaining $20,000 will be discretionary, but each alderman will be held accountable for the first time for how they spend those funds.
We say each alderman should demonstrate they are serious about fiscal responsibility and pledge 100% toward capital and infrastructure. Checkbook spending for parties and groups must end in 2010.
* Demolition of current Aurora Police Station - $1.2 million
* Arterial road resurfacing (15 lane miles) - $2 million
* Indian Trail expansion (Mitchell to Farnsworth) - $1.5 million
* Wood Street Bridge - $790,000
* Neighborhood street improvements (25 lane miles) - $5.4 million
* Right-of-way improvements - $900,000
* Eola Road (Montgomery to 87th St) planning - $900,000
* Density reduction - $500,000
* Indian Trail water storage tank - $920,000
* Law department cost increase from $760,952 to $955,340
Projected revenue is $332 million, which is a $12.6 million or 3.7% decrease. That assumes revenue doesn't continue to decline further than estimated.
* Sales tax share from state estimated $17.0 million (from $17.4m)
* Home-rules sales tax (1.25%) estimated at $15.7 million (2.3% decrease)
* State income tax distribution estimated at $12.5 million (from $15.4m)
* Gaming taxes are expected to drop again to $11.5 million (3% decrease)
* 2010 revenue estimated at $82 million
* $1.56 per $100 of EAV general
* $0.10 per $100 of EAV police station debt
* $0.25 per $100 of EAV library fund
* $1.91 per $100 of EAV total
The full 2010 proposed budget spans over 1,500 pages, which you can download (warning: large size PDF file).
What else would you like to see reduced from the 2010 budget by the Aurora City Council?