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Elmhurst City Council approves $57.6M budget despite pushback

First Ward Alderman Diane Gutenkauf (right) explains her reasons for opposing the city's 2014 budget at the Dec. 16 City Council meeting. (Mari Grigaliunas -
First Ward Alderman Diane Gutenkauf (right) explains her reasons for opposing the city's 2014 budget at the Dec. 16 City Council meeting. (Mari Grigaliunas -

ELMHURST – The Elmhurst City Council approved a 2014 budget with a $57.6 million general fund at Monday's meeting, but not without disagreement.

"I'm not supporting this budget because I can't support the council's budgeting behavior," said First Ward Alderman Diane Gutenkauf.

She referred to the council's approval of a motion to add $40,000 to the city's community grant budget during a Committee of the Whole meeting Dec. 2. The additional funds taken from the fund balance increased the community grant budgeted funds, which are given to non-governmental groups throughout the year, from $94,000 to $134,000.

The motion, made by Fourth Ward Alderman Kevin York, passed 8 to 6.

Gutenkauf, one of the aldermen who voted against the additional $40,000, had argued that if the city wanted to expand an area of the budget, it should benefit a city department first and suggested the Elmhurst Historical Museum.

"We should fund our own operations first," Gutenkauf maintained at Monday's meeting when she voted against the city's 2014 budget.

Fifth Ward Alderman Chris Healy mentioned that Gutenkauf's motion at the Dec. 2 meeting to add $40,000 to the Elmhurst Historical Museum's budget was considered and voted down.

Third Ward Alderman Michael Bram also voted against the 2014 budget, but for a different reason than Gutenkauf.

"We as a council chose community grants above concrete street reconstruction," Bram said.

The budget includes $121,755,731 in total revenues and $151,094,643 in total expenditures. It also follows the calendar year.

The difference between revenues and expenditures is made up out of the fund balance or bond proceeds.

Third Ward Alderman Dannee Polomsky acknowledged that the budget won't make everyone happy, but supported it.

"There are some portions where I would have liked to see more funding and others where I would have liked to see less," Polomsky said.

Bond refunding approved

The council also unanimously approved the refunding of $8,950,000 in general obligation bonds.

The city accepted a bid from William Blair & Co., LLC for a 2.06 percent interest rate. The sale resulted in a $861,302.50 savings to city tax payers. The new interest rate is almost half of the previous one, which was about 4 percent.

"The AAA helped on this bond issue. It probably saved you $30,000 [or] $40,000," said Kevin McCanna, president of Speer Financial, Inc. which took bids on the city bonds Monday morning.

McCanna was referencing the city's new AAA credit rating, up from AA+.

"What we've done is we've taken existing debt, reissued bonds at a lower interest rate, thereby saving us a lot of money on paying off that debt," Gutenkauf said.

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