At the top of priorities for the evening was to
pass next year's budget and levies. The county's fiscal year is
from Dec. 1, 2008, to Dec 1, 2009.
The budget was presented first and passed with
two board members voting no: John Stewart and Pat O'Neill.
Following acceptance of the budget, each of the
individual levies for which the county collects taxes was brought to
a vote, one a time.
A total levy amount of $812,430 for the general
fund was first approved. Stewart and O'Neill voted no.
When it came to the health department's
proposed levy for $386,100, it failed in a 5-5 vote. Stewart,
Aylesworth, Luster, Mitchell and O'Neill voted no. Ruben, Farmer,
Logan, Werth and McIntosh (all members of the finance committee)
As a side note, this figure represents only a
small portion of the total operational costs for the health
department. Administrator Mark Hilliard has explained in the past
that for as much as 80 percent of their funding, the department relies on
grants obtained for specific programs. He has also said that grant
funding is getting more difficult to acquire.
The Board of Health determines the health
department budget, and their levy is based on that budget
John Stewart put a question to the floor, asking
what the current consumer price index is, and he asked for
clarification on pay raises that were included in the health
The county uses the CPI for pay raises for
Stewart was told in response that the current CPI is
4.1 percent. At its last meeting, the Board of Health approved a budget
that included pay raises for administrative staff: 3.5 percent for everyone
except the administrator and 4.5 percent for Hilliard. It was said that this
was much the same as last year.
Luster said, "I don't think that we knew about
the salary increases and the percentages until the board-of-whole
meeting (last Thursday). Some of that might have influenced
Board chairman Dick Logan said, "I wasn't
here." It was stated during the meeting last week that he and
O'Neill were at choir practice.
A comment was made later that it would have
been helpful to have had someone from the health department or their
board explain the salary increases. It was not detailed in the
Board of Health meeting notes.
With a motion from Stewart and a second from
O'Neill, the health department levy was amended to $350,000 and
then passed with unanimous approval.
The $36,100 that was taken from the health
department levy was then added to the general fund to change that
amount to $848,530. Before voting on this change, Ruben asked if
anyone planned to ask to change any other individual levy. Having
no comment, the amendment was brought forward and passed.
Discussion evolved when the county bridge levy
with brought forward at $94,500.
This is one of the funds was robbed for the
past three years to help keep the general fund in the black.
[to top of second column]
Stewart inquired if this was the full levy
amount possible. Ruben said no. It was cut down in committee due
to a shortage in the general fund. It could be made as high as the
motor fuel match tax, which is $182,000.
The motor fuel tax is used for big projects, and it can be used
either in the highway department or put in the bridge fund.
The accumulated motor fuel tax pool and the
county's ability to supply matching funds have been allocated this
year to the highway fund, where funding is needed for the
Elkhart-Mount Pulaski blacktop project.
Stewart asked if the highway department levy
was at its full amount.
In past recent years the highway department
voluntarily made major cuts to its budget, holding on equipment
purchases and other big expenses that could be put off short-term
but would need to be made up in the future.
Ruben said, "That is their current levy, less 1
percent, I believe."
The levies were approved at:
$848,530 Total General Fund
$812,500 Illinois Municipal League Retirement
$380,160 County Highway Fund
* O'Neill voted
$94,500 County Bridge Fund
* O'Neill voted no.
$350,000 Logan County Department
of Public Health
$182,655 Highway Match Tax Fund
$150,000 Ambulance Service Fund
$55,398 Tuberculosis Sanitarium Fund
$80,000 Senior Citizens' Tax Fund
$103,000 Cooperative Extension Service Fund
There were a few "present" votes when there
could be a conflict of interest. Otherwise, except where noted, all
the above levies passed with unanimous approval of those present.
A truth-in-taxation hearing is scheduled prior
to next month's county board adjourned meeting on Nov. 18
at 7 p.m. at the Logan County Courthouse.
[By JAN YOUNGQUIST]
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