Tuesday, Nov. 23

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County budget to start fiscal year
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[NOV. 23, 2004]  The Logan County Board adopted the proposed 2004-2005 fiscal year county budget last Thursday. Board members wrestled many hours before passing the budget, which takes effect in one week, on Dec. 1.

The county health board, represented by its president, Mike Rohrer, requested the county to postpone accepting the budget and try to reinstate some funding for them. But Dale Voyles, county board chairman, said that there were no funds to levy for the health department.

Cuts in funds began last year. This year they include the health department and tuberculosis sanitarium. This became necessary because we are under tax caps that have not kept up with escalating costs of living, which is set at 1.9 percent increase per year, Voyles said. One major factor in Logan County has been the insurance and law enforcement costs. They have far exceeded this allowance for several years. Insurance went up 33 percent and 54 percent the last two years. Reserves in other funds were transferred to cover these increases, but the reserves are now depleted.

The county is looking for ways to help reduce some of the cost in law enforcement. The county jail is not designed to house juveniles. Out-of-jurisdiction housing and transportation are expensive. An alternative site in the McLean County Juvenile Detention Center is being looked at.

A drop in revenues received through the state and losses in property taxes have also led to the current crunch. About $225,000 in late property taxes is not in yet. This year's budget is coming in shorter also due to overestimating circuit clerk fees.

While state funds, county fees and other revenues are variable from one year to the next, estimates indicate a scant $200,000 may be left on the books at next fiscal year's end.

This figure made it difficult for the board members to approve the budget, as it will create temporary shortages next year even if it comes in at the anticipated amount. There is always a certain amount greater than $200,000 lagging behind.

In addition, it was debated what to do if revenue is coming up short. It was questioned whether the board might amend the budget down during the year. Rather, Voyles discussed selling bonds to cover expenses.

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The budget passed 7-5 with the seven yeses that were cast by Dale Voyles, David Hepler, Vicki Hasprey, Bob Farmer, Chuck Ruben, Bill Sahs and Terry Werth. Voting no were John Stewart, Paul Gleason, Dick Logan, Gloria Luster and Patrick O'Neill.

The budget includes the following levied funds:

  • General fund, $1,101,600
  • Ambulance, $0
  • Liability insurance, $494,126
  • Tuberculosis sanitarium, $1
  • Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, $688,468
  • Logan County Health Department, $1
  • Logan County Highway Department, $274,500
  • County bridge, $0
  • Highway matching tax, $0
  • Cooperative Extension Service, $98,000
  • Senior citizens tax fund, $80,000

Total levy: $2,736,696

Funds levied as $0 were uncontested.

Funds levied as $1 were contested.

It was explained during the meeting that the levies for senior citizens and Cooperative Extension funds are regulated beyond county control. The operation of the county expenses, which includes the general fund, IMRF and insurance payment, must come first, and the county expenses are at the maximum allowed under the current tax caps, set at 27 cents.

There was not sufficient funding to levy for the health department and tuberculosis sanitarium. It was suggested that those departments will need to draw from their reserves to fund their budgets for this year. It is anticipated that this will be done for only one or two years.

A letter assuring funds in the case of a large-scale, expensive emergency was approved for the health department. Bonds will be sold if the need should arise.

[Jan Youngquist]

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