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Local News

Joliet budget shows deficit, drop in sales tax revenue

Joliet City Hall
Joliet City Hall

JOLIET – The proposed Joliet city budget for next year projects an $8.7 million deficit in the general fund that pays for most operations.

The city in recent years typically has forecast deficits that shrink by the end of each year.

The 2018 budget also shows flat or declining tax revenue with expectations that sales tax dollars will fall for a second consecutive year. Property tax revenue would increase.

The budget was made public for the first time Wednesday on the city’s website.

The first City Council meeting on the budget will be at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 29.

The projected deficit in the general fund reflects spending of $183.3 million, which is up 1.8 percent from 2017. Revenue would increase 1.3 percent to
$174.6 million.

The entire city budget is nearly
$284 million, including water and sewer operations, parking services and special funds.

Finance Director James Ghedotte this week gave an update to the City Council’s Finance Committee on this year’s general fund, which was projected to have an $8 million deficit in the 2017 budget. He said the city now projects a deficit of
$1 million to $2 million for the end of the year.

“That’s what we’re projecting,” Ghedotte told the committee. “We really don’t close the books until February or March.”

Finance Committee Chairman Michael Turk said the larger deficit projections reflect “conservative budgeting.”

“We are conservative on our
revenues,” Turk said. “We’d rather do
it that way than be surprised at the end of the year.”

The budget calls for a $2.2 million increase in property tax revenue from 2017 to a total of $35.6 million.

Sales tax revenue is declining.

The city projects $45.5 million in sales taxes in 2018, which is down $1.2 million from what was budgeted in 2017. The budget shows sales tax revenue this year is not keeping up with what was projected at the start of the year and now is expected to be $45.8 million.

Sales tax revenue this year also is down from 2016, which was the last year Joliet saw an uptick. Gaming taxes are expected to remain flat at $18.1 million.

State income tax revenue is projected to be $14.35 million, not showing the decline estimated earlier this year.

City officials had projected a $1.4 million decline because of a change in the state distribution of local shares of income tax revenue.

According to the proposed budget, state income tax revenue this year is expected to be $14 million, down $700,000 from what was projected at the start of 2017. Joliet received $14.2 million in state income taxes in 2016.

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