By Bill Jones Daily Southtown

Labor costs are being cited as the primary reason for a 2021 Oak Lawn budget that sees an increase in expenses of just over 3% compared to the 2020 budget.

The Oak Lawn Village Board voted unanimously Friday night to approve a budget with $62.34 million in general fund expenses, up from $60.05 million in 2020.

Finances director Brian Hanigan said the village faced increases of 2.5% in salaries due to collective bargaining agreements.

“Our budget is largely flat. Our increase is labor,” Hanigan said.

The police department base salaries increase by $670,658 from 2020 to 2021, for instance, to a total of $12.26 million before factoring in holiday pay, overtime and other staffing costs. The department’s overall budget for 2021 is $23.45 million, up $1.46 million from 2020.[Most read] Second stimulus check updates: Congress passes $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill, authorizing long-sought aid that includes $600 direct payment to most Americans »

The fire department’s budgeted salary expenses are to increase by $220,695 to a total of $7.35 million, again before factoring in other staffing costs. That department’s total budget is $17.63 million for 2021, up $446,553 from 2020. Advertisement

“The good news is I think we’re going to have labor peace for at least another year,” Hanigan said, noting the village’s agreement with fire employees runs through the end of 2021, while the others come up after 2022.

Oak Lawn is expecting $63.94 million in revenues in 2021 for a general fund surplus of $1.59 million. But that comes on the heels of a year in which Hanigan said the village expects a $2.5 million deficit because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions that led to a drop in revenue.

“Almost all of Oak Lawn being behind is attributable to COVID-19 and the sales tax fallout,” Hanigan said. “It’s not as dramatic as I thought.”

While the general fund serves as Oak Lawn’s operating budget for the year, there are two dozen funds that make up the village’s overall budget. Combined, Oak Lawn plans $181.30 million in 2021 expenses, up from $174.34 million in 2020.

The Village Board also approved a 2020 tax levy of $14.46 million for property taxes to be collected in 2021.

“It’s lower than it was 10 year ago,” Hanigan said, citing a $15.03 million levy in 2010.

Combined with the Oak Lawn Public Library’s levy of $5.4 million, the total levy is $19.86 million, a 1.56% increase over 2019.

Original article: Chicagotribune.com

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