MARION — Mayor Anthony Rinella sees a positive future in Marion, as the city passed its operating budget Monday during a City Council meeting.
The more than $48 million budget has a generous surplus of about $152,000.
Rinella said one of the big projects this coming year is the $3.3 million project that will extend Halfway Road from Main Street to Westminster Drive, creating about 50 construction jobs in the process. He said the project will make it easier for Pepsi MidAmerica to maneuver in the area.
“It is going to just make it better access for the trucks coming in and out of Pepsi. It will be much safer for all concerned,” he said.
Another major project will be the continual upgrades made to the city’s sewer system, he said.
With the announcement of Camping World replacing the spot where Gander Mountain shut its doors this past year, Rinella thinks the retailer will be a big deal for the city. He said the company also purchased 11 acres to the north of the store and will label the Marion store as one of its supercenters.
Although the city looks to be a good financial shape, Rinella said Marion is sure to have a reserve in case of a catastrophe. He said the city has about a $4 million cash reserve policy so the city can pay its bills for three months in case of a disaster.
Additionally, he said the city budgeted for a 10 percent cut to the Local Government Distributive Fund, proposed by Gov. Bruce Rauner in a budget address in March. He said although it was supposed to be a “one-time” thing, the city has to protect itself.
“In the political arena of Illinois, you just have to be safe,” he said.
The mayor also doled out admiration to the city staff, who work throughout the year to make sure the city stays within the budget. He said they have software that allows them to see line items all year, and where they are at within the budget.
Rinella said the City Council instructed staff to stick to needs, not wants, as they prepared for the budget process, adding if they had projects, those will be handled by the council.