Thursday, April 22, 2010
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No surprise, economic pinch seen in county audit

County switches health insurer

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[April 22, 2010]  At the monthly voting session of the Logan County Board, auditor Helen Barrick of Clifton Gunderson in Springfield provided a brief overview of Logan County's newly returned audit for the fiscal year ended Nov. 30, 2009. Several issues complicated and delayed the process in recent years, but since the new audit firm took over, the audits have gradually been brought back to their needed timeliness. They help to keep track of where the county stands and are used each year in the development of the next year's budget.

InsuranceDuring the process, auditors review the county's books and financial statements from a couple of different perspectives, and then in the final process go into offices and work with county officials and many of the employees from every department in the county.

Barrick began by reporting that the combined general operating and liability insurance fund had a deficit of $161,000, meaning that there was a loss of that amount over the year.

"I honestly don't consider that to be too bad for this year," she said. "It was the kind of year that every governmental entity I'm dealing with faced some large challenges in revenue reduction."


She moved to the revenues portion of the report to explain. Revenues were $5,531,000. In comparison, those revenues in the prior year were $6,193,000.

Barrick explained that revenue reductions were seen across the board in property, income, replacement and sales taxes. She referred to these as "the economic taxes, because from an economic standpoint you saw downturns in those."

"Every governmental entity was facing the same thing," she emphasized.

Additionally, in revenues, there were losses from state-supplemented positions that the state did not pay for, particularly for the probation officers.

Turning to the expenses side, total expenditures were $5,896,000, which was slightly more compared with the prior year's $5,765,000. So there was a slight increase in expenditures, though it was only 2.5 percent overall and nothing individually, Barrick observed.

She complimented the board: "From an inflationary perspective and in maintaining expenses in a budget, you did a very good job."

The ending fund balance was $999,000. She explained that this is effectively your equity and represents how much you have on hand to pay your expenditures. This figure is 17 percent of what was spent during the year.

"That's not too bad, but you did run a little bit tight," she said.

The ending fund balance for the prior year, 2008, was 20 percent of the year's expenditures.

She encouraged the board to get this figure a little bit higher, "as you never know when economic circumstances can turn."

She added: "As they have this year. This year you almost need a rainy day fund, so to speak, to carry you through."

She concluded that it was the revenue reductions that caused the drop from 20 percent to 17 percent.

She then gave a brief overview of general accounts and individual funds. The finance committee has been following her advice to eliminate deficit fund balances. There were still a couple of funds with deficit fund balances.

Barrick suggested paying more attention to the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund when budgeting for next year. That fund is better than it was last year, she said. Some of this was accomplished by the shift last year to have the highway and health departments pay their own.

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Also, the Emergency Management Agency fund has been running at a slight deficit that is slowly being reversed. The liability insurance fund is getting a little low and may need more allocation. The rest of the funds, including health and highway departments, are all in adequate condition, in pretty good condition, she said.

Finance chair Chuck Ruben once again thanked Barrick and Clifton Gunderson for the wonderful job they do.

"It's nice to hear from the elected officials and the office personnel in general that they are nice to work with and they enter things quickly," Ruben said.


Barrick responded, "Everybody's wonderful to work with. It's our pleasure to be here."

The board is opposing an attempt that is being made by the state to reduce local revenues even more. With the audit revealing a $662,000 drop in tax revenues, attributed to economic times, and with the added burden of delayed state subsidies, the board unanimously voted to join other counties opposing Gov. Quinn's March 10 proposal to change the 90/10 percent split of income tax between the state and local government to 70/30 percent. The calculated impact on Logan County would be a loss of another $346,500.

The county was facing a 36 percent increase from Blue Cross Blue Shield for its health insurance renewal. Insurance chair Jan Schumacher asked Nancy Schaub from Roger Garrett Insurance to look for other options. The insurance committee and Schaub met with county employees earlier this month to discuss the choices.

The county had Health Alliance before switching to Blue Cross last year. Health Alliance now has a new program that was presented. The single BC/BS HMO renewal rate was $503.36.

Health Alliance's single-rate, point-of-service equivalent HMO program was $391. Both primary medical groups that serve Logan County residents, Family Medical and Springfield Clinic, are included.

Two other plan options are available for employees to choose from at their own added expense. These plans allow for higher deductibles or outside network care providers.

The board unanimously -- with John Stewart absent -- approved Health Alliance as the county employee insurance provider. The insurance will cost $22,000 more this year.


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