Illinois budget cutting into local municipal services

Thirteen mayors from the Route 13 corridor, which runs from Harrisburg to Carbondale, are asking Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner to cut them some slack from a 50 percent budget reduction.

In total, those cuts eliminate close to $5 million from local communities.

Illinois Municipal League Executive Director Brad Cole says the governor should not penalize local communities for keeping balanced budgets and doing things right.

“Municipalities are doing exactly what the governor wants the state to do,” Cole said. “We’re saying ‘Take a page from our playbook. See how we operate — and do it properly — and we’ll work with you to try to find ways to solve the problem at the state level.'”

Regardless of the final numbers, at least two local cities are already struggling to keep up with state mandates.

Outgoing Carbondale Mayor Donald Monty is faced with cutting $1.25 million from the city budget.

“With the uncertainty in the budget, whenever a position comes vacant we just look real hard to see if we’re going to fill it,” Monty said.

Even after eliminating several city positions, dissolving a street crew, and increasing taxes 0.25 percent, Mayor-elect John Mike Henry is afraid more cuts may be needed.

“Street cleaning and garbage collection recycling is next on the list, and it will effect our public health and safety,” Henry said.

Carbondale isn’t the only local community which will be facing these cuts.  

Herrin Mayor Steve Frattini says his city is facing a $611,000 budget reduction in state funding.

“The cuts would seriously impact, potentially, the public safety aspects of the community both in police and fire,” Frattini said. “We are basically understaffed right now, and we have antiquated equipment. Our newest piece of firefighting equipment is 1994 vintage.”

Communities in Illinois can use Home Rule to increase taxes to meet their budget needs, but each mayor says that’s an unpopular last resort.

Another issue Illinois cities are facing is that they must pass a budget by May 1, but won’t know how much of a cut they will receive from the state until July.

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