El Portal’s tax rate won’t be changed for the upcoming 2013-14 proposed budget.
The village is proposing a tax rate of $8.30 per $1,000 in taxable property value for the 2013-14 budget-the same as last year.
El Portal’s tax rate still needs to go before the council during two budget hearings before taking effect Oct. 1, the start of the 2013-14 fiscal year.
Village manager Jason Walker says El Portal has been tightening it’s belt on expenses.
“It’s status quo on the budget because of the restraints,” he said in an interview. “We don’t have a lot of money coming in. We took a lot of conservative estimates on our costs. But it could always change.”
Walker added that plans are that there won’t be any layoffs, additional fees for residents or hiring of staff.
Mayor Daisy Black says the village looks bright financially.
“We balanced our budget. We didn’t have to cut any services,” Black said in a phone interview. “We were frugal. We came in line with what we needed. We are in pretty good shape and I am pleased with that.”
But Walker said the village is applying for a federal COPS Hiring Program grant that, if approved, would pay for additional police officer.
“In general, we need more eyes on the streets,” he said. “Yes, we have an issue with short staffing especially the midnight and evening shift.”
Currently, the village has seven full-time officers and 18 reserve officers. The three-year matching grant would be for about $100,000. Walker said there has been a recent increase in burglaries in the village and adding an extra officer would help.
Police Chief Eugene Morales said the recent spike in burglaries is common during the start of the school year.
“It has happened in the past before,” he said in a phone interview. “We are doing proactive patrol and it should come down again.”
The Police Department is expecting to spend about $744,263 down from last year’s $753,889.
Aside from police staff, he added that the village will be looking into focusing on adding two pocket parks with benches and trees. In addition, the village will look into fixing sidewalks, right of ways and potholes.
“We need to fix it before it gets worse,” Walker said.
There are signs of financial help, as properties in El Portal have increased by three-percent, Walker said.
Also, the village’s rainy day fund is steady with about $1 million.
“The reserves were good,” he said. “We are moving in the right direction.”
The funds may be used for any emergency including a natural disaster.
The budget hearings will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 11 and at 7 p.m. on Sept. 24 at Village Hall, 500 NE 87th St.