Rauner budget creates annual shortfall for local community

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner’s budget plans would create a $100,000 annual shortfall for one local town and city leaders are scrambling to figure out how to pay the bills.

Since moving to town to open her business two years ago, Brittany Pistono has given Sesser a ringing endorsement.

“I like that it’s a small town, and I love the feel of the community aspect of it,” said Brittany Pistono.

However, Mayor Jason Ashmore says years of neglect have caused Sesser to have some hidden scars.

“Our sewer and water lines have been given minimal attention over many decades and they’re extremely old and the EPA is coming down on us,” said Ashmore. “This isn’t a small project, the sewer system is a multi-million dollar project.”

As the city of Sesser starts to dig itself out of a financial hole left behind by past administrations, there is concern that eliminating $100,000 a year from the city’s budget could simply be adding more dirt on top.

“There really are no other areas to cut, unless you get into important services,” said Ashmore.

To keep important services like police, fire, roads, water, and sewer, Sesser may be forced into a difficult choice.

“We don’t want to raise taxes because that hurts businesses, drives people out, so that’s going to be a very last resort,” said Ashmore.

“I think as long as the people know what the money is going towards I think they are more than happy to support the community, and they know the money is going towards something that could benefit the town,” said Pistono.

While agreeing with the state’s long term future, Ashmore is looking for a short term fix for his community.

Governor Rauner’s office provided us with this statement on municipal funding cuts: “Years of irresponsible budgeting and out-of-control spending has left Illinois with a $6 billion budget hole, and Governor Rauner had to make some difficult decisions to get Illinois back on sound financial footing. The amount of money transferred to local governments has ballooned by 42 percent in the last decade and the reduction to local governments proposed in the budget puts Illinois in line with neighboring states. Through the local government task force he created, Governor Rauner is committed to working with local communities to reduce costs and give them increased flexibility. Additionally, as part of his Turnaround Agenda, the governor proposed empowering local residents with tools to control costs at the local level and get more value for their tax dollars.”

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