Government is too Complicated
Posted in the Dixmoor Forum
#1 Jun 6, 2013
The federal government begins its budget year on October 1. The state's fiscal year currently begins July 1, though this has changed over the years. And local governments throughout Illinois operate under a hodgepodge of budget years:
Meanwhile, the budget years of all public school districts coincide with the state's fiscal year, except those in Chicago, which begin their budget year September 1.
Why such a range? Illinois law ties a municipality's fiscal year to its general election. However, if municipalities have populations over 500,000, the fiscal year begins January 1. Municipalities also have the option to change their fiscal years by ordinance. Many have. But when asked why a particular town's fiscal year begins on a certain date, many local officials say, "because it's always been that way." Apparently, apathy, bureaucratic inertia and an unquestioned loyalty to precedent have combined to maintain a system with no reasonable rationale.
However, I would suggest there are many positive reasons for bringing the various fiscal years into harmony with the normal calendar year.
First, there is that mother of all bureaucracies, the evil empire imposes its will on all government units alike. It does not matter if you are the state of Illinois, Cook County or tiny Chicago Ridge. Your employees' income and Social Security taxes are figured on a calendar year basis. For most government units, this means having to figure an employee's pay partially from one year and partially from the next. If a raise is given, it is generally given at the beginning of a fiscal year, rather than at the beginning of a calendar year, and this makes accurate reporting even more difficult. Why not simply keep track of everything the way it must be reported?
Second, when governments negotiate contracts with their employees' unions, both the governments and the employees look to see what comparable employees in other jurisdictions are getting for their services. There is always a desire to compare what policemen, firemen or secretaries make in different towns. The comparisons, when averaged, are a valid indicator of what a fair salary is within a given geographic region. The problem arises because these comparisons are almost always made on outdated information. Because of the different fiscal years, governments are probably not comparing apples to apples. One town may be ending a fiscal year while facing negotiations with a union looking for a 10 percent raise. Raises may have just taken effect in another town, giving it the highest paid employees in the area. In either case, the comparisons are faulty.
Only if the government units being compared had the same fiscal year, with equivalent payroll years, would these comparisons be valid and accurate.
Budget preparation under fiscal year/calendar year allows for budgeting the receipt of all property taxes due a unit of government from the same levy year. With the May 1 through April 30 fiscal year, which prevails in most towns, there is a split in the receipt of property taxes:
The larger, second installment of taxes paid in the fall is received from one levy year, while the next receipt comes in the spring of the following year's property tax levy. Because it's very difficult to accurately predict how much a government unit's equalized assessed valuation will increase from one year to the next, budgeting revenues truly becomes a guessing game, played in the dark. It is quite a bit simpler knowing that your equalized assessed valuation is going to stay the same for a full fiscal year of property taxes. If one year's property tax receipts come within the same fiscal year, prediction is easier and certainly more accurate.
Municipalities themselves should look seriously at a coterminous fiscal year/calendar year. It has certainly made my job here in Chicago Ridge easier, and it would be so nice to do a salary survey of neighboring communities that was truly an apples-to-apples comparison.
#2 Jun 6, 2013
Government is too complicated? Who are you? One of new Mayors around here or a new know-it-all-Trustee somewhere? If you don't like it here get the h*** out. Government is only complicated for liberal elitists. For rest us of all we want is for government to pay the bills on time. This numbskull is talking about citizen tax monies like a freaking inconvenience. If you can't handle the complications hit the showers fruitcake.
#3 Jun 6, 2013
Not too hard to figure out who wrote all that stuff. This is not too complicated.
#4 Jun 11, 2013
Can't wait to see tonight's meeting, with our new mayor Chuck running things. His first agenda (how exciting) says he wants to give out some jobs, give certain employees raises and that he making some "Mayoral Appointments" at the end of the meeting. Hopefully there is enough kleenex at the meeting for the crying trustee's tears, because he is so sad. Maybe there is going to be a new appointed position in charge of taking care of our resident sad sack during meetings. Mayor Gene used to be quick to point out when Chicago Ridge was the first at something. Are we the first village with our own "crying trustee".
#5 Aug 6, 2013
Lots of juicy items on tonight's agenda. Committee meeting starts at 8pm. Where is the money going to come from for that Quarter of a Million Dollar Water Main on Lyman? The work isn't even finished yet? Do we have to pay a Quarter MILL for every street in town? The Three new business licenses on the Agenda won't make up for that. Where should you go with your hand-basket? Go to the Village Board Meeting.
#6 Oct 7, 2013
Is someone getting ready to come out and challenge for trustee in 2015? The board members up for re-election seem to be clueless and seem happy playing politics with the new Mayor. The complaint and concern most have about the current leadership is that there is no leadership. One spends 100 percent of his time on politics, switching political sides the others strike secret deals to benefit contributors and friends. Some current and former trustees seem to want the new mayor to fall on his face.
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