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Highland Park’s ’24 Budget Shows Operating Surplus and $34 Million in Capital Spending

The Highland Park councilmembers green lighted the City’s 2024 budget without much discussion during an everyday council meeting on Nov. 27.

More information on the City of Highland Park’s budget may be found HERE, including a summary HERE.

In line with the projections, the City might be operating at a surplus with $96 million in revenue to only $80.1 million in operating expenses. All in all, which incorporates planned capital spending and debt service, expenses rise to $127 million to $118 in total revenue.

The City’s 2024 revenue will get a lift from an extra $1.3 million in tax dollars due to a 3 percent levy increase that officials project will cause a $90 bump to a taxpayer with a $500,000 property value. The City says the rise will support higher debt payments, pension liabilities and capital projects.

While a overwhelming majority of resident fees will remain neutral, residents can expect increases to water and sewer rates in addition to ambulance fees. Water rates are up 10 percent and sewer rates 3.5 percent.

The City of Highland Park plans to spend $34.1 on capital improvements as a part of a $201 million 10-year capital plan. The biggest chunk of the 2024 funding plan, or $7.3 million, will profit streetscape and sidewalk improvements, including to the downtown business district near 2nd Street. One other $6.4 million is planned to cover street, bridge and light-weight work.

To assist pay for the capital spending, the City will execute a $5 million planned drawdown of their general reserves, in response to budget documents.

The City plans to spend an extra $2.1 million on its personnel in 2024, bringing the overall cost to $45.8 million. The rise in includes regular and planned raises and the addition of 1.8 full-time employees. Recent positions at City Hall in 2024 — no less than for the complete yr — include a victim liaison (2022 Highland Park shooting), business development specialist, assistant city manager and sustainability specialist. The City’s human resources department may have fewer employees.

Mayor Nancy Rotering praised the budget and its process prior to its approval.

“The proposed budget meets the City’s revenue, financial, budgetary and capital policies, and offers a balanced focus between the short- and long-term while minimizing the property tax burden to residents,” Rotering said. “We are going to proceed our ongoing investments in improving and maintaining our roads, water mains, bridges, sidewalks, and other Public Works projects.”

She added, “Specifically, attention to long-term fiscal stability is woven throughout the budget document, in all department projects. In consequence, the City maintains a continued Aaa rating, the best available, and has received ongoing recognition for our budget document and financial reporting.”

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