Norridge budget up over $1.8 million despite economic slowdown

$25.3 million budget cuts police nearly $600,000 and streets by $140,000

If Norridge’s budget was at the doctor’s office for its yearly check up, this year’s visit would leave it with a warning: you’re morbidly obese.

The Village of Norridge Fiscal Year 2020-2021 budget of $25,361,741 is a $1,840,685 year-over-year increase from the $23.5 million 2019-2020 budget.

The $1.8 million increase comes in spite of the economic hardship currently gripping Illinois as a result of IL Governor JB Pritzker’s “lockdown” executive orders.

The COVID-19 lockdown has hurt government tax revenues

Pritzker’s rule-by-decree lockdown closed many businesses for months, in many cases completely, while service businesses such as restaurants were only able to get by on carry out orders until recently.

Some businesses didn’t survive. Many continue to struggle. This suppression of economic activity has devastated government tax coffers statewide.

Yet that didn’t stop the Village of Norridge, under current appointee-mayor Daniel Tannhauser, from swelling Norridge’s municipal budget further.

More revenue in a down economy?

The Village’s “expected revenues” show a substantial anticipated increase – from $23.7 million in 2019-20, to a whopping $26.5 million in 2020-21.

The claimed expected revenues flies in the face of statewide sales tax revenues being down significantly. Norridge gets $4+ million in state sales tax sharing alone.

Income tax losses could be in the billions. Some of that money makes it to the municipalities via income tax sharing, or indirectly through grants and other funds.

A nearly $3 million increase in tax revenue under these conditions? Unlikely.

Included in Norridge’s “expected revenues” is a $683,000+ increase in gasoline tax income.

No doubt Tannhauser included estimated revenues of the 12-pump gas station being built on Irving Park Road across from the Sieb center.

Is that money likely to materialize this year? With Pritzker’s lockdowns the cause for nearly 1.5 million unemployed in Illinois, and many employees (who are still employed) working from home, the demand for fuel has plummeted

The expected revenues from Tannahuser’s budget, therefore, seems more likely to be, as former Norridge mayor James Chmura would say, “a load of BS”.

Police and streets cut

Even with the $1.8 million budget expansion, the Norridge Police department has been cut by nearly $600,000.

The auxiliary police force was pared back by over $100,000 alone, from $255K in 2019-20, down to $150K in 2020-21. We have received reports many auxiliary officers have already been dismissed.

Is Tannhauser trying to jump on the radical left’s “Defund The Police” train, even as Norridge has been targeted by the mob?

Street maintenance was also cut by $140,000, from $1,845,123 in 2019-20, to $1,702.655 in 2020-21.

Despite the cuts, the Village allocated another $550,000 for the corporate welfare agreements they signed with the owner of the Harlem Irving Plaza.

Funding for attorneys also soared well past the quarter of a million dollar mark, increasing from $240,000 last fiscal year to $300,000 this year.

(The Village’s primary law firm, Johnson & Colmar, is a campaign contributor to Tannhauser’s Norridge Improvement Party.)

Tannhauser’s first… or last budget?

Daniel Tannhauser was appointed to succeed Chmura in 2019, shortly after Chmura’s 2019-2020 budget was rubber stamped by the Village board. The 2020-21 budget is Tannhauser’s first.

He’s gone full throttle on spending, throwing caution to the wind, counting on money that may not be there.

The Village will have to pay the shortfall out of it’s reserves… or, as is more likely, balance the bloated budget on the backs of Norridge’s property owners.

The previous two years saw double digit increases in the Village property tax levy. This year’s levy is up again, to $2.2 million.

Tannhauser’s 2020-21 budget prioritizes corporate welfare and patronage payroll, over police and streets.

One would have thought with an election 9 months away and a deep-pocketed challenger on the horizon already taking shots at him, Tannhauser would a bit more… conservative in an uncertain economy.

If Tannhauser’s imaginary revenue streams don’t become a reality… then his first budget, may very well be his last.

And it’s high time we put Norridge’s budget on a strict diet: better priorities, and fiscal discipline.

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