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Portage proposes $66 million budget for 2023

Joey BLS Photography website

Portage officials say they're thinking outside the box, when it comes to the city budget. The proposed 2023 budget totals just over $66.1 million, including a general fund of $24 million.

Deb Podgorski chairs the city council's budget committee. "Budget committee had two full days with all of the department heads. It was great. They were great meetings. I think we accomplished a lot," she said during Tuesday's council meeting.

To supplement the budget, the city council voted to issue up to $5.8 million in bonds for equipment purchases. Clerk-Treasurer Nina Rivas says the idea is to set up a sustainable funding source for equipment needs — like vehicles for police, fire and other departments — once the American Rescue Plan money is used up.

"You can borrow for capital needs, but you can't borrow for operating needs. So, it would be foolish to spend all of our ARP funds on capital equipment that we could borrow for, and we would use it to shore up city funds, to have, possibly, a rainy day fund for once. So it just makes sense," Rivas explained.

Meanwhile, the council also addressed a cash flow issue with this year's budget. The Portage Park and Recreation Department has been at risk of running out of money in its primary operating fund, after the state cut about $400,000 during the 2022 budgeting process, but there's more than half a million dollars in the park's non-reverting funds.

Council President Collin Czilli said the quickest way to fix that is to temporarily abolish the non-reverting funds and move the money. "We want to have the non-reverting fund, but right now, the park needs the money to operate, and the only source of available revenue in front of us is the non-reverting fund," Czilli added.

The 2023 budget will be up for the Portage City Council's final approval on October 25.