Finance chairman Chuck Ruben opened the meeting with a statement,
saying that as of the second draft, the county budget for the next
fiscal year will have a deficit of $736,629. However, the deficit
will be offset by an anticipated incoming remainder of fiscal 2013
money that totals $845,000. There is still the potential for change,
so those numbers are not fixed.
Adjustments to departments
In the past, the finance committee would tell the departments to
make an equal cut after dividing up that amount, in order to help
compensate for a deficit in the general fund. Ruben said the
committee is going to change the way the adjustment is made.
Ruben said that in the future, the committee will ask the
departments to change the line items in their own budgets in order
to reflect the actual amounts, instead of placing the adjustment as
a different item within their own budgets. The budgets will then be
presented again to the county finance committee.
The finance committee, after some discussion, decided it would be
appropriate to decrease the adjustment by 50 percent before the
figures are given to the heads of each department. Each department
will be able to exercise more control over what areas of their
budgets take a cut, though the committee advised not to take money
out of insurance if it can be helped.
"It's half of a cut that we took when we took 15 percent," said
Ruben, who added that there would be a bit of rounding for even
figures. That amount should come to around 7 percent of what the
departments budgeted for last year.
Sally Litterly, clerk and recorder, and Kim Turner, chief
probation officer, both voiced a concern over the cuts, saying that
for smaller offices, the only area of the budget to take money away
from is the insurance line item.
Ruben said he understood the concern, and the departments can
still come forward in the future to request adjustments if
"I will say for all of us -- we all have essential services, and
we couldn't function if we didn't have those. Not one person's job
is more important than another," said Litterly.
Ruben said he wants to be sure there is not a major expense
somewhere that would prevent any of the departments from being able
"We have to keep some of that fund balance … because everybody's
budgets have been cut so we can build up a cushion. To let it all
get away in one year is not very responsible," Ruben said.
Highway department finances
County highway engineer Bret Aukamp was present to ask the
committee for additional funds to help offset a deficit in the
"We've got a $200,000 deficit this year with what is being
proposed," he said.
Aukamp said that the past few years have been manageable due to
their fund balances.
"Our fund balance is looking to be zero within the next year to
two years," Aukamp said. "The general fund balance is looking pretty
good now, thanks to the highway department being diverted the past
Aukamp said that currently the tax rate is at the lowest it ever
has been, at 7.2 cents, but the revenue coming in is at the lowest
it's been since 1998. Aukamp said he is asking for an additional
$50,000, which would bring the tax rate to 8 cents. He added that
the maximum tax rate is 10 cents and that he is looking in every
area possible for additional revenue.
Aukamp presented a
(PDF) showing a trend in tax rates in the
county. In the late '90s, Logan County greatly reduced the tax rate,
and due to limitations with the Property Tax Extension Limitation
Law and other economic issues, the highway department has never been
able to completely recover from that dip in the tax rate.
"We haven't dug ourselves out of that hole, and we never will,"
Aukamp said there are roads and bridges in the county that will
likely need repair in the near future, but the lack of funds could
prevent that work from being completed in an efficient manner. He
said the fund used specifically for deficient bridges looks good,
but it means that the county has a large number of potentially
deficient bridges. In addition, the county would need a local tax
levy to match the federal money funding that line item.
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Aukamp said that if nothing changes, his workforce will shrink to
nine people after an upcoming retirement, and it may have to stay at
that number. Aukamp previously lost two employees last year.
The committee discussed the idea of transferring $50,000 from the
general fund to the highway department, as well as looking at GIS to
see if any money can be pulled from it due to any common grounds
between two departments.
Regional Office of Education
Superintendent Jean Anderson of Regional Office of Education 38
was at the meeting to present her request that the county approve
the original amount of revenue that she requested. Originally,
Anderson had requested a figure of $67,795. She said that her budget
is determined using a formula that is based on "PPRT (personal
property replacement tax), AV (assessed valuation) and the tax rate.
… Those percentages have been very stable during my (Anderson's)
term, with Logan County's percentage staying at around 50 percent or
so every year."
At a recent meeting of the finance committee, the committee
proposed an amount of $58,500. If that amount is used as 50 percent
of the total budget for the region, the total budget will fall to
Anderson said she represents three counties in her position, with
Mason and Menard being the other two counties. With Logan County
providing the majority of the funding, the amount they provide could
alter the budgets of those two counties as well. Furthermore, her
proposed request included raises for the three employees working in
her office, and the amount is divided among the three counties in
Anderson said that when she took office in 2003, she requested
$57,012.28 from the county. The proposed figure of $58,500 would
translate to an average of only $135 more per year.
Anderson also added that the efforts to consolidate regional
offices by the state have been rejected by the state government, and
it is unknown if the efforts made by this region will be upheld or
Anderson asked that the committee give her office the same
consideration it would give to any other department. "It's only
fair," said Anderson.
Ruben said he did not realize changing Logan County's total
budgeted amount to the region would have such an effect on the
region as a whole. Ruben said he feels the committee should consider
reducing the cut to her request by half.
Terry Carlton said that Anderson should consider moving the pay
increases in her proposed request, as historically the county board
has advised against putting in such raises. Anderson said she is not
sure how to factor in any raises in after the budget is passed,
because of the unique nature of a regional education office.
Ruben said the committee will need to locate the figures for last
year's cut to the region to determine a potentially different amount
It was decided by the committee that the full county board will
discuss the potential of raises for nonunion county employees. The
amount proposed would be a 3 percent raise.
Andi Hake came to the committee to ask for a slight increase in
the amount the county pays in sponsoring the Lincoln Art & Balloon
Festival. Due to increases in costs to the chamber of commerce, Hake
asked if the committee would consider increasing their amount paid
The committee agreed that it was a relatively small cost to keep
their status as full sponsors of the festival and approved the
Committee members present were Chuck Ruben, chairman; Andy
Meister; Robert Farmer; Jan Schumacher; Rick Aylesworth; and Terry
Carlton. Guests included Vicki Dugan, county treasurer; Mary Kelley,
circuit clerk; Sally Gosda, of the health department; Sally Litterly,
county clerk and recorder; Jean Anderson, regional education
superintendent; Jonathan Wright, state's attorney; Andy Anderson,
county board member; and Bret Aukamp, of the highway department;
[By DEREK HURLEY]