A financial pinch forced Vermilion officials to delay doling out long-anticipated raises and bonuses for some workers.
City council members have indefinitely postponed a vote to approve pay spikes for about a dozen non-union employees. These employees haven’t received a pay bump in about five years.
The total raises and bonuses would’ve equaled about $50,000 in local funds.
Holding off on raises, however, underscores a larger problem with Vermilion’s finances. City officials either slashed or reduced several services to offset a projected $230,000 shortfall in Vermilion’s $4.8 million everyday operating budget for 2014. The budget funds many public services, such as police.
Vermilion Mayor Eileen Bulan, along with council members, managed to balance the budget without laying off workers.
They achieved this by:
•Upping fees for youth sports leagues. For instance, boys and girls wishing to play baseball and softball must now pay $10 extra this year.
•Passing on buying three new police cruisers.
•Declining to fill vacated positions throughout the city.
•Deciding against raises for non-union personnel.
Despite Vermilion’s bleak financial picture, union ized employees still obtained a collective $57,000 in raises for 2013 and 2014. Most of the city’s full-time workers, about 60 people, belong to a union.
For now, officials seemed pleased they pieced together a solution to these puzzling finances.
“It definitely was a problem, but it could have been a bigger problem if we didn’t address it” Bulan said.
Looking ahead to 2015, the city is facing a $64,000 shortfall.
Bulan mentioned she and council could consider shutting down the Vermilion Community Pool and scaling back on recreation services to offset the projected shortfall. Officials might also generate additional revenue by increasing taxes, be it income or property taxes.
“If we keep cutting, the only way to get more revenue is by putting a levy on the ballot or increase the income tax” Bulan said.
Most local governments in the area have experienced financial hardships in recent times. Many factors, including less money coming from the state and plunging property values, contributed to these