Mayor Mike Henry says the bleak state budget situation has Carbondale officials preparing for the worst as preliminary talks on next year’s city finances get underway.
Speaking last Thursday, Henry said he and other municipal leaders around the state have been told they may never be reimbursed for motor fuel tax monies that have been withheld since the Illinois budget impasse began in July. He said the loss of part of that revenue — projected to total more than $1 million in the current fiscal year’s city budget — is a serious concern.
“Cities are told that they will probably never see that money,” Henry said. “So we can’t look at it as a savings account. It looks like the state is going to keep it. This really, really will put us in a bind.”
He said when the time comes next spring to enact a new city budget, something is going to have to give, and some city services will be a likely casualty.
“We’ve already talked to department heads to have them start looking for places to cut,” Henry said. “We’re at the point where I never wanted to be, which is looking at cutting services that all of our citizens expect to have. It’s going to be interesting, and it’s not going to be easy.”
Moving forward, Henry said there are “many irons in the fire,” and part of his agenda includes recruiting more businesses to the city, which in turn would boost the overall sales tax base.
“I want to get into our city code and analyze it for what needs to be updated to make us more business friendly, to make the code easier to understand,” Henry said.