By Todd Wineburner
A new budget for Pontiac was approved at last night's city council meeting and City Administrator Bob Karls described it as a “status quo” budget that maintains services without increasing taxes. There are some areas of concern, however, particularly a 250-thousand dollar deficit in the liability insurance fund, and a 50-thousand dollar shortfall in the municipal retirement fund. Karls says those balances will have to be brought back up over time, and that the challenge for the council is to find new revenues to do it. “Weve been whacking away at costs for the last few years," Karls says, "and we’ve really kind of reached that point where we have to look at the other side of the equation.” There was an opportunity for public comment during the meeting, but no community members voiced an opinion. Karls said he wasn’t surprised by that because the budget contains no new initiatives, so there wasn’t any of the discussion that new projects can generate.
For his part, Mayor Bob Russell said he was delighted that the council crafted a workable budget during these tough financial times in Illinois. Russell says he’s confident that the city’s needs will be met next fiscal year, but future budgets are a source of concern. Russell says he’s heard reports out of Springfield that municipalities may face even more revenue cuts from Springfield. “If there are any legislators out there listening,” Russell said after the meeting, “they’d better come and talk to us because it’ll be a disaster.”
In other action, the council retained Crawford, Murphy, and Tilly Engineering of Springfield as airport consultants, and witnessed the swearing in of Jacob Campbell, who's now a Lieutenant with the Pontiac Fire Department. The council also heard a major presentation about Pontiac PROUD, including the announcement that Pontiac will be the host city for a gathering of community development professionals in October. The council also saw a preliminary draft of the electrical aggregation plan that the public will have a chance to review in the next few days. That proposal will be on the April 9th ballot.