The Aurora City Council is looking at about an $8 million increase for the 2022 budget.
The first budget amendment, with a second amendment expected later in the year, covers increases in some budgeted items, as well as costs that were unanticipated when the budget was passed late last year.
Some of those unexpected costs are due to inflation, as well as what Aurora Finance Director Chris Minick described as “delayed COVID recovery” costs.
“This year has been especially challenging,” Minick said.
The City Council, meeting as a Committee of the Whole, discussed the amendment Tuesday evening and placed it on the regular City Council meeting for next week. It was placed under unfinished business, meaning it will be discussed further.
Some of the larger increases include: a $619,200 transfer from the general fund to the capital improvement fund to cover the costs of a planned renovation of the council chambers and fifth floor meeting areas at City Hall; $736,600 for increased cyber security consulting; $600,000 for salaries and overtime at the Aurora Fire Department due to retirements and military leave commitments; $594,700 in additional motor fuel tax for upgrades at intersections; and a total of $801,100 from two tax increment financing districts to put toward the Finish Line Grant program, which the city has taken over from Invest Aurora.
The amendment has a total of 37 items totaling about $8 million added to the about $529 million budget, bringing the budget to about $537 million. Almost $3 million would be added to the general operating fund.
Another addition is about $350,000 toward repairs on the Pinney Street deck, which is a wooden deck that runs along several businesses that face on both New York Street and Pinney Street downtown.
The city is in the midst of making a deal with the business owners – several of them restaurants – that would have the city repairing the deck, then turning it over to the businesses.
The deck needs repairs, but also has some utilities running through it. Some of the restaurants use the deck for outdoor dining.
City officials have a long-term plan to turn that back end of Pinney Street, which right now is parking, into a general area for use by the restaurants.
One reason there could be more discussion about the budget amendment next week is that Ald. Edward Bugg, 9th Ward, is concerned the council get an update from city staff about changes made at City Hall for this year.
Aldermen approved a reorganization that eliminated two departments and created three other ones for this budget year.
As part of the reorganization, Bugg said the city promised to review some of the personnel changes a year after they were made. That was this week.
Bugg asked city staff about that review last week during a Finance Committee meeting. He expected what he called “a full update” at this week’s Committee of the Whole meeting.
But Alex Alexandrou, the city’s chief management officer, said he would have a full report by the next Finance Committee meeting. Bugg said he wanted the report in time to vote on this first budget amendment.
But Alexandrou said there will be a second budget amendment, and added that the city can always take retroactive action, even if the budget amendment passes.
“We will produce a report for the next Finance meeting,” he said.