Decatur councilwoman says city's budget with shortfall will benefit taxpayers
Decatur Councilwoman Lisa Gregory insists her decision to vote in favor of passing the city’s new $3.2 million out-of-balance budget was done for the primary benefit of taxpayers.
“The rationale behind that support is that I refuse to go back to the citizens of Decatur and ask for additional tax dollars as the General Assembly makes a habit of doing,” Gregory told the Macon Reporter. “Additionally, I want Decatur's four state elected officials to understand that the budget that was finally passed was detrimental to every citizen and municipality in the state of Illinois.”
The Herald & Review has reported the City Council approved the $67.9 million spending plan by a vote of 5-2, leaving open the possibility of readdressing the issue in the future when either more revenue will need to be generated or cuts to city services will almost certainly have to happen.
“I have no intention on voting for any tax increase,” Gregory said. “I was a ‘no’ vote on the tax levy presented to the council on Dec. 19. What it means is that several entities that the city supports through contributions may see reductions in those funds. Each month council members will review the budget and make the necessary decisions as we move through the budget year.”
Decatur’s budget shortfall comes as a result of deficit costs and a decline from revenue streams such as sales taxes, cable taxes and hotel taxes, all of which the Herald & Review points out have noticeably declined.
Over a six-year period beginning in 2010, Decatur also had the dubious distinction of being the state’s fastest shrinking city, losing nearly 5 percent of its total population or roughly 3,400 residents in all.
Illinois Policy Institute notes the population loss equates to a loss in revenue that extends far beyond just local tax revenue.
“The local government distributive fund, or LGDF, distributes shares of state personal and corporate income taxes to local governments not based on need, but on share of the state population,” according to the institute. “The rapid rate at which Decatur is shrinking makes for a noticeable loss in revenue – Decatur is set to lose $1.4 million in tax revenue from the state for this coming budget, contributing to its budget shortfall.”
Going forward, Gregory said she hopes that every council member will be willing to step up in a timely and responsible manner to actively participate in the challenge of finding a way to balance the budget, as they are obligated to do by their stature.
“For a council member to pretend that there had been no opportunity to fully understand or provide input into the 2018 budget as presented and then request additional time for consideration is disingenuous,” she said.