Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) Commissioners
Special Meeting of MWRD Committee on Budget and Employment
November 7, 2019
The Committee met to consider the Executive Director’s 2020 Budget Recommendations contained in the October 15 book, along with the proposed changes submitted by the Executive Director on October 30, 2019. The initial recommendations and the changes may all be accessed at http://mwrd.legistar.com/calendar.aspx and clicking on the “meeting details” for the entry for this Nov. 7 meeting. The Recommendations as amended were accepted.
Next Steps in Budget Process:
The Commissioners heard from representatives from each MWRD department who presented the overview of that department’s proposed and 2019 budget and employee count, the 2019 operational highlights, and the primary initiatives for 2020. Their slide presentations may also be found at http://mwrd.legistar.com/calendar.aspx. Only a few of the Commissioners asked questions. Here are some of the highlights:
Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) Board Meeting - December 13, 2018
Public Hearing on the Proposed Budget on December 6, 2018
By an 8-0 vote, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation Board took just 15 minutes to approve 11 items which resulted in a $1,203,988,541 budget for 2019. This is $53 million more than 2018, or a 4.6% increase. The property tax levy was raised to $643 million, an increase over 2018 of $20 million, or 3.3%. There was no discussion. (Commissioner Morita was absent.)
Next Step: The Board will consider amendments to the 2019 budget at the December 20 meeting, at which time the 2019 budget will be finalized.
Relevant Comments from December 6 Public Hearing on the Proposed Budget
The 2019 Budget that was passed on December 13 included a number of changes from the Tentative Budget Recommendation by the MWRD Executive Director dated October 13, and additional changes from the 2019 Tentative Budget published on November 20 (which reflected amendments to the October 13 Executive Director’s Recommendation).
At the December 6 Public Hearing, the Civic Federation, while overall supportive of the proposed budget, pointed out how confusing and difficult it is to review and comment on this ever-changing budget. The Civic Federation’s recommendation was that the final form of the budget that is to be considered by the Board should be published and made available to the public ahead of time. This is particularly important, said the Civic Federation, because the version of the budget passed by the Board often includes significant increases in the total appropriations and property tax levy from those contained in the Executive Director’s original recommendation, as well as from the Tentative Budget.
In this case, the version passed by the Board on December 13 varied from both the October 13 and November 20 versions (which is the version the Civic Federation reviewed and commented on) in a number of ways, including:
December 13 October 13 November 20
Total Appropriations: $1,203,988,541 $1,079,658,141 $1,092,299,141
Tax Levy: $ 642,783,809 $ 640,649,270 $ 640,649,270
The Civic Federation also recommended that the MWRD analyze the effect on its pension funding and have fall-back plans in case the District’s pension reform law were to be successfully challenged.
Observer - Priscilla Mims
Metropolitan Water & Reclamation District Committee on Budget & Employment
Departmental Presentations for 2019 Budget - November 1, 2018
Acting Executive Director John Murray gave an overview of the proposed 2019 budget:
Each Department Head gave a short presentation of 2018 accomplishments and plans for 2019.
Next steps in the budget process:
Observer: Priscilla Mims
Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) Board Meeting - September 6, 2018
Items to Watch for in the Future:
Other Comments or Observations:
1. The Board took several minutes to talk about the recent Calumet explosion where one employee was trapped when part of the roof collapsed. Employees and the fire and police departments were lauded for their prompt and efficient response. An independent Review is underway.
2. Following the Board Meeting, a Study Session was held to present progress to date and 2019 projections for major capital expenditures dealing with infrastructure and equipment upgrades and stormwater management measures.
To see video or read the minutes of this meeting click here: mwrd.legistar.com
Observer - Diane Edmundson Meeting Length: 2 1/2 hours
Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) Board Meeting - December 21, 2017
Items to Watch for at Upcoming Meetings:
Observer - Diane Edmundson Meeting Length - 90 minutes
Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) Board - December 14, 2017
The Board, without discussion except for one item, approved a number of items which result in a 2018 budget of $1.15 billion. The final numbers cannot be known until the 2% increase approved for all non-represented employees, which appears to be approximately $2.4 million, has been added to the totals.
It was this salary increase (Item 4, File # 17-1314) that involved the only discussion. Commissioner Walsh said that a memo from the Director of Human Resources had been provided to the Commissioners that morning which recommended that no increase be given. After the meeting, Commissioner Shore shared the memo with this observer. Among other factors the Director cited were the above-market starting and average salaries of MWRD employees and the salary increases over the past 10 years (20%) as compared to the Consumer Price Index (12.7%). It was noted that benefit packages should also be considered, but there was no comparison of the MWRD benefits to those benefits provided by others. The memo stated that for each percentage increase in salaries for non-represented employees, the additional cost would be $1.2 million.
However, the new collective bargaining agreements provide for a 2% salary increase in 2018, and this appeared to convince at least some of the Commissioners to approve the 2% increase for non-represented employees. The vote was 6 “yes” (with Commissioner Morita absent for this vote) and 1 “present” (Commissioner Walsh).
The only other item that was not procedural in nature was Item 2, File #17-1312, which contained a number of changes to the Tentative Budget. Among other things, this amendment increased the total appropriation by $10.5 million, which includes
Observer - Priscilla Mims Meeting Length - 35 minutes
Individual authors are credited at the end of each report.