Champaign approves budget without final figures from the state

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CHAMPAIGN--While lawmakers continue to battle over the state budget, the Champaign city council passed a balanced one of its own for the next year.

"We made some really hard decisions during the recession years that have allowed us to come out of the recession with a more positive budget," said Champaign mayor, Deb Feinen.

The $122 million budget comes without cuts to city staff or services for now, as council members await the final numbers from the state.

However, its approval also means that the Champaign Public Library's proposed budget is now final. It called for the voluntary resignation of four staff members back in May, resulting in a reduction in the hours the library is open beginning July 1st.

"We will be cutting back on hours on Wednesday and Thursday night,s closing at 6 PM instead of 9 pm. And then opening an hour later on Saturday mornings," said Champaign Public Library director, Marsha Grove.

The library's Douglass branch will also cut four hours each week, closing at 6 pm on Wednesday and Thursday evenings, instead of 8 pm.

A decrease in property tax revenue and an increase in costs forced the library to eliminate 20 positions total over the last five years. Grove says there should not be any more in the near future.

"In the five year forecast, it doesn't look like we'll have to make any further cuts.

In the past three years, the city gave the library more than $1 million from it's general fund to help avoid those cuts.

However, uncertainty from the state prevents it from providing any additional money this year.

"We don't know what's going to happen with the state," said Feinen. "And so it's a hard time to start allocating additional funds when we may be talking about $4 million in cuts in the next month."

If that's the case, the council would have to reconsider whether more cuts at the city level will need to be made.

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