Proposed Normal budget adds people and projects
The proposed 2022-23 budget for the Town of Normal is more than 16% higher than the estimated current year budget. That's an increase of $27.3 million. Town staff is scheduled to present the $193 million proposal to the town council during a work session on Wednesday.
Staff said they expected “growth based on local and state economic indicators and the lingering impacts of the pandemic on the economy,” according to communications with council members.
The town projects a 2.2% increase in the state share of sales tax receipts, and a 2.5% increase in local sales tax revenue for a total of $30.1 million in that category for the next fiscal year. That's about $4 million higher than projections made last year at this time for FY 2022-23. The blueprint also calls for a 2% increase in water rates, and there is more than $10 million in pandemic relief funding. There is significant federal support for the Uptown underpass project in the budget, too.
In documents prepared for the council, City Manager Pam Reece wrote increased sales and property tax revenue from community growth, grants, pandemic relief money, income tax money, motor fuel tax money, and other revenue will pay for the increased spending.
Reece said the town staff has suggested recouping part of the significant staff losses that have come over the last five years from various causes, including the pandemic, national workforce trends, and a prior economic downturn before the pandemic. She said community growth also means an increased demand for services that require additional personnel to deliver.
The town workforce is down more than 60 people over the last five years. The budget plan calls for hiring 21 people. Reece said the town’s practice of budgeting conservatively also means the plan assumes no other retirements or attrition. That is unlikely to become reality, and if people do leave for whatever reason, the town would gain incremental savings during the hiring process for the open positions.
There also are new parks and recreation initiatives, further debt reduction, and work toward a long-planned new fire station in the proposed budget, along with $2 million for street resurfacing in the coming budget year.
Traditionally, the town has directed property tax revenue to employee retirement obligations and General Fund operations. The proposed budget eliminates property tax revenue as a funding source for General Fund operations in FY 2022-23 and allocates all that revenue source to pension contributions.
The proposal is a five-year snapshot of intended spending, but the council acts on only the next year. Over the five-year period there could be expenditures and transfers totaling more than $819 million.
The town council will review the plan this week and offer input. Staff will then adjust the proposal. The council is expected to act on the revised document in March. The town's new fiscal year 2022-23 begins in April.