Please be informed -- Logan County
By Jan Schumacher, member of the
Logan County Board Finance Committee
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[October 13, 2012]
If someone asks you to sign a petition about
Logan County selling bonds, I encourage you not to sign it --
especially since the bond sale would not increase taxes, and if the
county doesn't sell bonds, we'd have to take funds from important
agencies. Here's the situation:
The Logan County Board is facing up to $600,000 in expenses for
major criminal cases next year -- expenses the county is legally
obligated to pay. When Gov. Pat Quinn abolished the death penalty
and the Capital Litigation Trust Fund that paid for expenses related
to death penalty cases, the county was dealt a financial blow we
With the much-anticipated wind farm currently on
hold, the county doesn't have an extra $600,000 in its $6 million
Two options have been identified as ways to pay those criminal
The preferred option is the sale of approximately $700,000
in bonds (which includes a little extra for contingencies),
which would in effect allow the county to borrow the money and
pay it back over 20 years. These bonds would not raise taxes.
The approximate $60,000 in annual interest would be paid for out
of existing funds, mostly from the county's reserves.
The bonds also could be paid off in 10 years, if the county has
the funds to do so at that time.
Agency budgets could be slashed
Without revenue from bonds, the county has determined that
the most feasible way to pay for the criminal cases in 2013
would be to use nearly all the property tax money that normally
goes to the Logan County Department of Public Health, the Logan
County Paramedic Association, Cooperative Extension and senior
services such as the Oasis and Community Action.
Slashing their property tax revenue would create a hardship for
these agencies. The health department would have to reduce
services and lay off employees. The ambulance service would have
to increase its ambulance fees to offset that revenue. And
services to older residents would be drastically reduced.
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Possibility of referendum
A petition is being circulated that would require the county to
put the sale of the bonds before the voters in a referendum.
Normally that would be fine. However, the problem is timing.
The earliest election that could include the bond referendum
would be next spring, which is too late to include bond revenue in
the 2013 budget. We can't assume the referendum would pass, so the
only fiscally responsible approach would be to approve a budget
without the bond revenue. That would mean a budget with drastic cuts
to the health department and others.
Election would be too late
The county board would have to implement the budget with those
cuts until the referendum is held. If it did pass, funding could be
restored to those agencies -- but those agencies might very well
have to reduce services and lay off employees before then.
Please, be informed -- and seriously consider what the
ramifications could be if you and your neighbors sign the petitions
requiring a referendum on the bond issue. As elected officials and
citizens of Logan County, we all want the same thing: fiscal
responsibility. That is what we are trying to accomplish.
If you have any questions, please email me at
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