Joliet city finances look in good shape
By bob okon firstname.lastname@example.org December 18, 2012 10:28PM
Updated: January 20, 2013 6:33AM
JOLIET — The city of Joliet looked to be in good financial condition Tuesday as elected officials approved the purchase of a second new fire engine, gave an OK to a $450,000 computer replacement program and left property taxes at the same level in 2013 as they were this year.
All that, and the city’s 2012 budget surplus is growing headed toward the end of the year.
It was the last council meeting of 2012 and a number of council members commented that the past year has been a relatively good one for city finances.
The council approved a 2013 tax levy of $38.7 million without discussion.
“It does not raise the amount of the tax levy from where it was last year,” City Manager Thomas Thanas said.
The levy is the total amount of money the city will collect in property taxes. It’s about 14 percent of the total city budget of $274.3 million.
The 2013 budget was approved earlier this month without any increases in taxes or fees, although sales and utility taxes were hiked this year to avert a forecasted deficit. Instead, the final budget for 2012 included a $400,000 surplus and that amount appeared to be improving.
Finance Director Rachel Mayer said the surplus at the end of November was $600,000. That number could go up or down by year’s end depending on final expenses and revenues, she said.
Meanwhile, the city, which had clamped down on capital expenditures in previous years, is buying equipment again.
The council, which in October decided to buy the city’s first new fire engine in five years, decided Tuesday to buy another one for a total cost of about $854,000 for both trucks. Councilman John Gerl said the city saves about $40,000 on the second truck by buying two instead of one because they can be custom-built together on the same assembly line.
The council also approved a computer replacement program that will cost $450,000 over five years.
Scott Kinsella, Joliet’s information technology chief, said the program will allow the city to replace all 425 personal computers used by city employees. Half of those computers are more than five years old and some are older than 10 years, he said.
“This program will give (employees) the tools they need to do their jobs,” Kinsella said.