Highland News Leader

Highland’s $57.1 million budget includes funds for infrastructure, safety building

Highland News Leader

The Highland News Leader serves readers in Highland.
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The Highland News Leader serves readers in Highland.

Highland’s new city budget focuses on infrastructure, new buildings and community development.

The City of Highland recently voted on its 2019-2020 budget, which features a $57.1 million expenditure, roughly 4 percent more than last year’s budget.

The 4 percent increase in its operating and maintenance expenditures comes with a 6 percent increase in operating revenues. There was also a 5 percent increase for the previous year’s budget due to investments in the city’s utility infrastructure.

City Mark Latham said the city’s budget was fairly conservative this year due to the state of Illinois economy. He said there have been some budget challenges, but overall the city is in good shape financially.

“The State of Illinois’ economic condition continues to decline but, due to the conservative amount we have been budgeting, the impacts have been able to be overcome,” Latham wrote in the budget. “We have prepared our budget with a very conservative approach, leaving room for unforeseen increases in cost and possible revenue increases…”

That, paired with the city’s recent growth, has been a boon for the city during what could be a tough financial time. In 2017 the city saw a 2 percent increase in assessed valuation and it anticipates another 2 percent increase from 2018.

Latham added that the new business district taxes have been included in the budget to assist with needed projects and future plans like the public safety building.

In Latham’s note, he also covered several different agencies in Highland and their plans for the year.

  • Public Safety will continue its work toward the new $7 million combined public safety building and the technology, equipment and existing building upgrades. The building will house police, fire and emergency medical services under one roof.

  • The public works department’s budget focuses on the continued effort to replace the city’s aging water and sewage infrastructure and will upgrade the wastewater treatment plan as needed.

  • The electric department is investing in smart meters and pans to install a new Northtown substation transformer and upgrade street lighting along Broadway and elsewhere.

  • Highland Communication Services will focus on evaluating operations, looking for efficiency and obtaining new customers. Director Angela Imming also said the department would like to initiate new products for non HCS customers and continue to cultivate the Business Technology Incentive program.

  • Parks and recreation will continue its work on the All Abilities Playground at Rinderer’s Park second phase and continue to build trails that connect the city’s main parks.

Latham said there also will be a focus on developing the rental inspection program and evaluate older structures that require demolition and reduce the amount of derelict properties in the city.

A public hearing was held Monday, April 15, on the tentative budget before a city council meeting followed by a vote on the proposed budget.

Latham said he expected the budget to pass Monday afternoon.

Visit highlandnl.com for more information on the budget and results of the vote.

Kavahn Mansouri covers government accountability for the Belleville News-Democrat, holding officials and institutions accountable and tracking how taxpayer money is spent.
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