On Tuesday, Sept. 28, the Wellington Village Council finalized its budget for fiscal year 2021-22, holding the second public hearing and final adoption for the $134 million spending package.
The budget for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1 includes a local property tax rate unchanged at 2.47 mills and does not have any loans required to balance the budget. However, some homeowners will see an increase in their net local taxes if their assessed property value increases.
Projects in search of grant funding, such as the planned new sheriff’s substation, are not being built as part of the budget. However, design work for that project is included.
Vice Mayor John McGovern noted that the council has a policy of keeping 25 percent in reserves. Deputy Village Manger Tanya Quickel said that this budget keeps to that promise. “We stick to that,” she said. “We have $16 million in unassigned reserves.”
McGovern also pointed out that the budget takes care of village staff members. “In the budget, we did not lay off a single person, and we are giving a 3 percent raise, 2 percent cost-of-living and 1 percent for a merit raise for those who qualify for it… The Keely Spinelli grants will remain at the same level.”
Quickel said that the budget is a spending plan that keeps Wellington’s priorities at the forefront.
“That is a long-term vision and a great hometown with great neighborhoods, great schools, great parks and our mission to provide high-quality services that create economic, environmental and social sustainability, while providing for the village,” she said.
McGovern added that Wellington has enjoyed nine consecutive years of increasing property values, and that doesn’t just happen by accident.
“New residents and new homeowners have a choice, and we have to be true to ourselves and making sure that our budgeting and planning going forward go toward maintaining Wellington and where we can continue having people wanting to come and live here,” he said.
Councilwoman Tanya Siskind was impressed by the strength of the budget, particularly after a very challenging year.
“To be in this financial position anytime is incredible, but after going through a pandemic, it is truly incredible,” Siskind said. “We went over this with a fine-toothed comb several times.”
Councilman Michael Drahos agreed that all council members and village staff had sharpened their pencils and worked on the effort to create a budget with a financially sound footing.
Mayor Anne Gerwig noted that she had told village staff that she would not support a budget that spent money that hadn’t yet been collected, and she was glad that was not the case with the final budget.
Councilman Michael Napoleone was also happy with the budget for fiscal year 2021-22.
“I like the way we’re looking toward the future,” he said. “We take community input on every project that’s in this budget. That has to come back to us first. Just because something is in the budget doesn’t mean the money is spent yet. There’s still more discussion.”
Also at the meeting, the council gave final approval to a years-long effort to draft an ordinance regulating the use of golf carts in the community. While an education campaign about the new rules will begin soon, the ordinance is set to take effect on March 28, 2022.