Burr Ridge trustees unanimously approved a $16,797,345 budget plan for fiscal year 2012-2013 after a public hearing that generated no public commentary.
Although the budget was unanimously supported, trustees debated $75,000 of the $439,620 in the hotel/ motel tax earmarked for purchasing billboards advertising Burr Ridge hotels. Trustee Bob Sodikoff rehashed a debate from the economic development committee. He and Trustee John Manieri argued the use of billboards was not an effective way to market hotels in the village.
Manieri, who attended Monday’s meeting via telephone, said when he travels for business or vacation he has hotel reservations before setting out. He said billboards advertising hotels do not generate many reservations.
But Bob Witkiewicz, general manager of Extended Stay and chairman of the village’s Hotel Marketing Committee, told the board the signs are essential to marketing Burr Ridge.
“A lot of people do not know where Burr Ridge is and the signs will help put that location in travelers’ minds,” Witkiewicz said. “The billboards are a way of getting the village’s name out there.”
Sodikoff said he understands the desire to market Burr Ridge, but fails to see how two billboards would brand the village. Both he and Manieri called for cross-marketing the hotels with the restaurant association and other tourism organizations.
Witkiewicz said previous billboards have helped increase walk-in customers and the Hotel Marketing Committee considers them invaluable.
The $75,000 would purchase two billboards between O’Hare Airport and Burr Ridge for a period of eight months.
Trustee Al Paveza said he trusted the hoteliers to know how they wanted to use the tax dollars to market their businesses.
Before closing debate the trustees agreed to maintain the $75,000 in the fund, but would discuss other marketing possibilities before deciding how to spend the funds.
The village and the Hotel Marketing Committee will continue forging ahead with at I-55 and County Line Road which is expected to cost $1.36 million. The village will receive $1,447,470 in grant money for improvements to the overpass and the interchange, which is projected to cover 80 percent of the total cost of improvements.
The spending plan passed by the board is $633,645 greater than last year’s budget. The village is closing out the 2011-2012 fiscal year on a bright spot with $437,620 budget surplus thanks to higher than expected sales tax returns. The surplus will be carried over to help supplement costs in the coming fiscal year.
The budget contains $2,461,085 in capital projects, which include $527,660 for road projects, $176,000 for a traffic signal at Madison Street, $365,000 for , $138,000 for water system improvements and $126,000 for information technology improvements.
Under the budget village employees will see a 2 percent cost of living adjustment and police union will receive a 2.5 percent cost of living adjustment. Employees in the public works department are still negotiating their contracts and will not see a salary increase until negotiations are settled.
Village health insurance rates will also increase by 6 percent, costing the village $820,950 in life, health and dental insurance.
The village will also spend $60,000 to fight the Emerald Ash Borer and will allocate $57,000 for the summer concert series. The concert monies will purchase a new tent, and improve sound and lighting equipment.