Video gambling, sales tax lead to $4.5 million boost for McHenry
City is in ‘strongest financial position’ in more than a decade, city administrator says
Video gaming in McHenry added $940,000 to the city’s coffers in the last year, doubling its contribution to city since 2016-17, City Administrator Derik Morefield said.
With higher-than-expected revenue from that and other areas – including income tax and state and local sales taxes – the last year brought in $4.5 million more than the city had initially planned for, Morefield said.
Overall, Morefield said, the city is in its “strongest financial position that it has been in the last 12 years, and probably the last 25.”
The proposed 2023-24 budget sits at about $29.3 million in expenditures and $29.5 million in revenue, according to city documents. Set for final board approval on April 17, Morefield included a conservative $3 million in new revenues, about 11.5% more than the previous budget calls for.
Those additional revenues do not include any increase in the city’s property tax levy, as approved by the board late last year.
Morefield gave the McHenry City Council a review of the current budget and an outline for the 2023-24 budget at the March 20 meeting.
Morefield said city staff used figures provided by the Illinois Municipal League to estimate what its 2022-23 revenue would be. The increase comes, in part, as the result of higher consumer spending and wages, he said.
There was “no way could have guessed we would be here today, with what could have happened and what did happen during (COVID-19),” Morefield said of the revenue.
McHenry now has a fully funded reserve balance of $9.7 million that could keep the city running for 120 days, in addition to money set aside for the Route 31 widening project, upgrades to its emergency dispatch center, and other capital projects.
“We don’t simply add overage to our coffers. We first ensure that we meet our 120-day reserve policy and then reinvest the rest to needed capital projects,” Morefield said.
Morefield expects having $637,070 in unallocated revenues for use at the council’s discretion for capital projects in the upcoming budget year.
He suggested using those unallocated funds for funding the sea wall in phase 4 of the McHenry Riverwalk. Phase 4 extends the pedestrian pathway from the Pearl Street bridge to the Route 120 bridge and is the “last link in the Riverwalk,” Morefield said.
Bids are currently being solicited to move power lines and a transformer box behind businesses for that stretch of the project, Parks and Recreation Director Bill Hobson said.
Another option proposed by Morefield would be to pay to resurface and then rent a portion of a parking lot owned by the Riverside Residences at 3516 Waukegan Road. The privately owned senior housing complex has 61 excess parking spots which could be used by Riverwalk visitors, he said.
Both options were attractive, Ward 7 Alderwoman Sue Miller said. “We will have parking problem. There is not a lot of parking for Miller Point” but added the Riverwalk was also a priority.
The council could also allocate more funds into the account set up to fund its portion of a planned Route 31 widening project. Once the Illinois Department of Transportation begins that project, McHenry’s portion is estimated to cost $8 million.
McHenry currently has $3.6 million reserved for that, Morefield said.
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April 3, 2023 at 06:41PM