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Elgin water, parks and rec income up this year

Updated: January 1, 2013 6:16AM

ELGIN — The city is on track to get more money this year from its water and parks department, city council members were told this week.

As the council gets closer to finalizing its 2013 budget during a special Friday night meeting scheduled for Dec. 14, covering all of the areas included in that document took up much of Wednesday night’s regular meeting.

Included in the discussion were the city’s water and sewer budgets — which for the first time ever will be included in one city budget — and the parks and recreation budget.

The city’s water revenue got a $4 million bump this year due to the summer drought, said Colleen Lavery, chief financial officer.

For 2012, Elgin’s water rates saw a 1 percent reduction but an increase in overall revenues.

“The drought resulted in a 13 percent increase in usage and revenue,” leading to an increased water department income “almost to the 2007 level,” she said.

Water usage had been declining each year since then, Lavery said.

As a result of the drought, however, the city is looking at increased cost for chemicals to treat its water, which comes mostly from the Fox River.

In 2013, the water fund and the sewer enterprise fund will be combined for the first time.

It makes fiscal sense, Lavery said, as sewer usage is for the most part predicated on water usage.

Parks & rec

There are no plans to change water or sewer rates charged to residents for 2013, she added.

Neither are there any major changes coming for the parks and recreation budget, which includes city expenses and revenue at The Centre of Elgin and the 43-year-old, city-owned Hemmens Cultural Center, said Lavery.

In the parks and recreation department, program revenues have come in over budget for the year, Lavery said, noting that The Centre of Elgin, which celebrates 10 years this week, has expanded many programs, such as swimming, day camps and after school programs.

The budget also saw $62,000 in revenue from the Dennis DeYoung concert in March — the last city-sponsored event at the Hemmens before officially becoming a rental-only facility in July. “Operations of the Hemmens shifted away from performance to a rental venue like the Heritage Ballroom” at The Centre, Lavery said.

Lavery did not immediately have numbers, however, for expenses associated with the final Hemmens-sponsored show.

Lavery and City Manager Sean Stegall affirmed that the Hemmens will continue to be a rental-only facility with no art “season” sponsored by the city. The arts center’s budget was reduced by 57 percent last year to reflect that change. It is on track to spend $866,040 this year. Income numbers from its rental revenue were not immediately available.

Council member Tish Powell asked that discussion of the Hemmens budget include information on a study done last year on possible future uses and needs at the facility.

That was a very comprehensive look at the structure and an analysis of its use, Stegall said. He compared a renovation of that building to meet current arts needs to the city of Chicago’s renovations to Soldier Field.

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