The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

February 26, 2014

Review of possible budget cuts delayed

Draft was to show department cuts

BY JENNIFER BAILEY jbailey@dancomnews.com
The Commercial-News

---- — DANVILLE — Aldermen were to review a third draft of the city’s proposed 2014-2015 budget Tuesday night with additional cuts as requested by some aldermen to avoid a proposed fire safety fee and/or cuts to the fire division.

But with Mayor Scott Eisenhauer ill Tuesday, City Comptroller Gayle Lewis told members of the city council’s Public Services Committee a third draft budget presentation was postponed to the full city council meeting on March 4.

The presentation was to show how any across-the-board department cuts of 5 percent to 10 percent would affect the whole city and city services.

If the fire and police departments and liability and insurance are pulled out of the budget for any cuts, that leaves only about $7 million to find cuts, Lewis said.

Lewis said talks with department heads will continue today to determine what can be cut from the budget to make up about an $800,000 shortfall.

Ward 1 Alderman Kevin Davis was asking each department head at Tuesday night’s meeting how a 10 percent cut would affect the department.

He heard from each, such as with human relations, public works, police and fire, that it likely could affect personnel, equipment, capital and other city services.

Davis said public safety costs and pensions aren’t going to go away. He thinks the city needs a way to generate more revenue for future years.

The meeting again saw a room full of firefighters and other supporters.

Five people spoke out against any fire department cuts.

Of those, Marti Washington, of James Place, said she’s here today because of the fire department responding to a fire at her home.

“I urge you to find another way …,” she said about making any fire department cuts. “I owe them everything. Thank you, firemen.”

There is no budget proposal to cut any position, Ward 7 Alderman Steve Foster said.

In other business Tuesday, committee members:

n Received a 2013 annual report for the police and fire departments. The fire department responded to 2,195 incidents last year, while the police department responded to 39,864 calls.

n Recommended approving a roadway improvement agreement for North Vermilion and the Poland Road area.

Urban Services Director David Schnelle estimates the city could spend about $150,000 coming from the economic development portion of the city’s gas tax for a roadway to run behind MedPlus Pharmacy and the Danville Bell Credit Union to a new planned development area.

Developer, James F. Wood, has proposed a mixed-use development on North Vermilion Street.

Schnelle said the access to Poland Road is for better traffic flow and safety, providing alternative access from Vermilion Street.

Schnelle said new traffic signals are up to the Illinois Department of Transportation, but he doesn’t anticipate the new development to create enough increased traffic to warrant a traffic signal at Vermilion Street and Poland Road.

The developer also has agreed to provide access to other parcels to the alternative access. The redevelopment is near 3551 N. Vermilion St. for retail development, including potential out-lots.

City officials aren’t identifying any of the development, saying it would be done in stages.

n Recommended approving the city’s annual action plan for program year 2014-2015 for Community Development Block Grant funds.

Neighborhood Development Manager John Dreher said $74,000 of the approximately $874,000 would be earmarked for Danville Housing Authority/Moore Street containment.

The money could be used to help with security fencing around the Fair Oaks property line near Moore Street, security camera surveillance and also relocating some families on Moore Street, Dreher said.

This would be step one to give that area, where there are trespassers to Fair Oaks and criminal activity near Moore Street, “a whole new look for the future,” Dreher said.