Real Facts on Brookfield’s
spin doesn’t match the REAL
Brookfield, like every other community across the country, has faced
some challenging economic times over the last few years. But if you
bought into the VIP spin, you would think Brookfield is about to declare
bankruptcy! The facts on Brookfield's finances, as documented in the
required yearly, on-time financial audits filed with the State of Illinois,
show the real picture.
Revenues are on a slight upswing, after having dropped over $1 million
since 2008. Sales tax, income tax, and utility taxes have all dropped
in the last couple of years. In addition to this, the State of
Illinois and Cook County have delayed reimbursement of these taxes
village. In fact, in 2008 and 2009, the Village waited more than
an additional 3 months for its fall installment of property tax
revenue from the county...an amount over $3 million each year! This
the village to take out a line of credit to make up for this delay.
The line of credit was paid off and closed each of those two years,
and currently holds a balance of ZERO dollars. VIP also claims
the village "borrowed" another $6 million. Actually in
2007, $6 million of bonds were issued for the street work that has
done in the last few years. This is being paid off with the 1%
sales increase the residents approved in 2007, with much of this
tax being paid by out-of-town visitors to the Brookfield Zoo. VIP
now wants to get rid of this voter approved sales tax...how will
VIP pay off the street bonds? The VIP spin is financially dangerous.
There has also been a huge impact on employee pension fund balances
due to the negative national economy. Required pension contributions
for Brookfield’s fire and police personnel have gone from
$560,328 in 2005 to over $2 million this year, accounting for nearly
the entire $14 million operating budget of the village! Of the
$6 million the Village brings in for property taxes, more than
goes towards pensions! This is not something that can be avoided.
The Brookfield Board, along with administrative staff, has made
many necessary changes in order to deal with these conditions. The
recently passed balanced budget has general operating expenses nearly
$1 million less than the budget passed in 2005. When you combine
this fact with the amount that pension contributions have gone up,
Brookfield is operating more efficiently with $2.5 million LESS than
it was just 6 years ago under the VIP administration!
Staff has been reduced by more than 20 positions since that time,
with decreases in every department, including management. This has
accounted for nearly a 15% reduction in total staffing of the Village.
In fact, the village manager's office, that had 5 full time positions
in 2005 under VIP, has now been operating with only 2 1/2 full time
positions. There have been wage freezes for all employees and mandatory
unpaid days off for management. Certain expenditures have been delayed.
Even during these tough times, Brookfield has been able to secure
over $11 million in grant money to continue work on capital improvement
projects. Additionally, the PEP village Board created the first ever
financial reserve fund with required yearly funding and strict rules
for withdrawing from the fund. In just 2 short years, this important
safety net has grown to over $400,000.
The facts on Brookfield's finances are simple....expenses have been
kept in check, the General Operating fund has been balanced and has
shown slight surpluses, and Brookfield is operating with a smaller
governmental staff. As national economic conditions improve, Brookfield
finds itself in good, stable financial shape and able to continue
to provide essential governmental services and infrastructure improvements
without property tax increases.
Village Wins Financial Award
Recently, Village staff was informed that Brookfield has once again
received A Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial
Reporting, award presented by the Government Finance Officers Association.
This award is given out to government units whose comprehensive annual
financial reports achieve the highest standards in government accounting
and reporting. This is the fifth straight year that Brookfield has
received this award while under the leadership of Mike Garvey and
the PEP Party. The Village did not receive the award from 2003-2005
under the prior Brennan/Russ administration.