At least two Community-Wide Finance Committee members left Wednesday’s meeting in shock about the city’s budget.

And discussions ranged from seeing if the city could change state law to not pay pensions to new hires to whether a separate library taxing district would be in the city’s best interest.

Turtle Run Golf Course co-owners Chris Heeren cannot believe the city pays the electricity bill for the Danville Tennis Club at Lincoln Park. In fact, according to Danville Public Works Director Doug Ahrens, the city pays $32,000 a year for electricity at the club and Danville Stadium.

Ahrens said the tennis club “long-standing deal” dates back to 1990 and continues until 2015.

In addition, Vermilion County financial resources director Nikki Bogart also was shocked at the minimal use of the yard waste program.

Ahrens said of the 11,500 garbage stops, about a third regularly have yard waste set out. This increases to 60-70 percent in the fall for leaf collection.

Bogart said city budget costs — whether part of the general fund or an enterprise, self-sustaining fund — which benefit such a small section of the city’s population need to be fully analyzed.

She suggested the committee possibly set a percentage amount, such as if only 20 percent of the population benefits from a service, then the city considers “getting rid of it.”

Heeren questioned Harrison Park Golf Course costs, such as for personnel and the irrigation system, being more than at Turtle Run and Danville Country Club.

Bogart also questioned the enterprise funds truly being self-sufficient, such as solid waste, sewer, Harrison Park and public transportation, when they utilize the city’s human resources, legal and other departments.

“Put (those) expenses into (their) budgets,” she said.

Committee members also were surprised to learn about the minimal medical insurance costs for city employees — free for single employees and about $115 a month for an employee and family members, with the city picking up the remaining costs.

The new 12-member finance committee, created by Mayor Scott Eisenhauer and consisting of business, financial and community members, talked about numerous issues when it met for the second time on Wednesday.

Eisenhauer has asked the committee to look at the city’s general fund — which pays for the city’s day-to-day operations including police and fire.

But several committee members think they should look at all city funds.

First National Bank’s Jim Mulvaney questioned why firefighters have to respond to all medical calls, in addition to Medix Ambulance.

“It’s a cost,” he said. “Someone doesn’t have to be there.”

Consultant Wayne Haugen believes three objectives for the committee are to: increase revenues, reduce costs and the final option would be to increase taxes.

He thinks the public should be presented with the facts of exactly how the city pays its bills.

Other issues brought up: how many police officers and firefighters really are needed, police and fire department overtime, fire department revenues, early retirement incentives, sales tax and renters (as opposed to home-owners) helping pay more for services.

The committee is looking at short-term and long-term approaches to keep the city financially solvent.

Eisenhauer said reasons he wanted to establish the committee included: a need to address declining revenue sources and evaluate funding sources currently in place; gain insight on “other ways” to fund government services; and draw on expertise of others in the community.

The committee’s goal is to provide Eisenhauer with recommendations by the end of September on ways to balance the city’s budget.

COMING UP

The Community-Wide Finance Committee will meet at 4 p.m. Aug. 6 at the Robert E. Jones Municipal Building, 17 W. Main St.

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