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Woodridge community events funding under microscope

Woodridge, IL

To help balance the budget, the unpopular might get the boot.

Woodridge officials are asking residents to answer a 10 questions survey regarding community events, hoping to find out what community events are among the top priorities when it comes to funding.

The survey, now on the village Web site, asks participants to rank the level of importance of each of the events listed.

Results will be tabulated and shared with the Woodridge Village Board Feb. 4, said Melissa Bohse, management analyst for the Village of Woodridge.

“The board will be providing their feedback on these events at that time,” she said. “Input from the special events survey will be a part of the considerations made in determining how limited funding is allocated to support special events.” 

During the past several months, village officials have been examining opportunities to reduce costs, increase grant awards and other outside revenue sources, rework projects and consider options for providing services through more cost effective means, according to a press release issued by the village.

The goal of this effort has been to better align expenses with projected revenue shortfalls while maintaining Woodridge’s level of service to the community, Bohse said.

As a part of this process, the village is looking at the various special events offered throughout the year. These events are an important part of Woodridge, however, difficult financial times could require some changes, Bohse said.

Village Administrator Kathleen Rush said the village would go through the budget, “line by line over the next few months” in an attempt to reduce a roughly $2.6 million deficit that the village claimed was due to reductions in sales tax, natural gas tax, and state income tax revenues. The village held a press conference in November to announce the deficit, and how officials planned to address the problem.

“Pretty much anything will be on the table,” Rush said.

The current focus is to make some determinations on special events for the next fiscal year, which runs from May 1, 2010 to April 30, 2011, Bohse said.

“The village will continue to evaluate these events in future fiscal years in order to most appropriately allocate funding,” she said.

In neighboring Downers Grove, budget cuts of more than $500,000 were approved last month, including suspending or eliminating several community events including Heritage Festival, the Pro Criterion Bicycle Race and an ice sculpture festival. The Downers Grove Downtown Management Corp. has picked up the tab on a scaled back ice festival.

Bohse said many, if not all, municipalities are faced with declining revenues and the challenge of continuing to provide services with fewer resources. These circumstances have led to the need for difficult decisions about special events to be made, she said. 

“Woodridge has always prided itself on engaging the public in the decision making process, and is utilizing the survey to ensure that residents are part of the decision making process,” she said.

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