KANKAKEE — Kankakee Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong doesn’t appear to be willing to rework her proposed $27.2 million budget.
One day after a special Budget Committee meeting in which all five aldermen in attendance sought a slowing down of the budget process, Wells-Armstrong indicated that delay is not something she’s interested in.
“I stand by the balanced budget I have presented to our city council in which a majority of the council members support,” she stated in an email response to The Journal. “For the sake of economic development and moving Kankakee forward, the city council needs to pass the budget.”
A move to pass the budget on July 20 stalled when the administration could not get the super majority — 10 votes from the 14-member council — needed to pass it on its first and second reading on the same night.
So, instead of passing it on its first reading, the move to adopt the budget was pushed back to the council’s Aug. 3 meeting.
Budget Committee Chairman Mike O’Brien, however, said that Illinois law states the budget must be open for public inspection for a 10-day period prior to vote, which means it cannot be adopted at Monday’s upcoming council meeting.
If that is the case, the council’s first opportunity to vote on it would be Aug. 17.
Comptroller Elizabeth Kubal said Tuesday that O’Brien’s point is being researched.
“Whatever is in the law, we will be following,” she said.
The mayor said she and Kubal have worked with the council in a collaborative manner to address and present a balanced budget with a surplus — the proposed budget has a scant surplus of $20,668.
She said four committee meetings were held giving council members the opportunity to address concerns.
She said O’Brien scheduled additional meetings without coordinating with Kubal, nor herself.
In addition, she said, the budget numbers are conservative, and no other mayor has been expected to pass a budget with a $200,000-plus surplus as requested at Monday’s committee meeting by Ald. Chris Curtis.
The council members at Monday’s meeting said the more time the city can delay passing a budget, the better understanding they will have as to how this situation has impacted sales taxes and property tax payments.
The aldermen also questioned certain salaries being placed in a proposed $10.2 million pending bond sale.
Due to the pandemic declaration by Gov. J.B. Pritzker earlier this year, municipalities are not required to adopt a budget until 60 days after the declaration has been lifted. Prior to this, municipal budget had to be adopted no later than the end of July.
The municipal budget year begins May 1. The city typically does not pass its budget until June or July.
The Kankakee region is in Phase 4 of the declaration order. It is expected the region will remain in this phase for some time. Pritzker has stated he would not hesitate to return areas to the more restrictive Phase 3 if infection numbers were to increase.
A region must complete Phase 5 before the emergency order is lifted.