The now, old problems occurred while trying to roll the county
finances over to a new accounting system. It is hoped that most of
those issues were resolved in the process last year and that the
2006 audit, which has just been started, will go much quicker.
But once again, budgeters are in the situation of trusting
uncertain figures and moving forth for the 2008 fiscal year.
Last night there was a full review of the figures that have been
compiled for a few months. The figures are mostly based on budgets
and requests submitted by county department heads and affiliated
agencies that receive partial county funding.
As the finance team moved line by line over the 67-page document,
finance chairman Chuck Ruben implemented a new practice; one that he
hopes might provide a more accurate financial picture in the future.
He began talking earlier this year about removing some of the fund
balances that are being carried from year to year. In some cases it
is not known why it is even being done that way. Carrying the many
fund balances has made it more complicated to see just how much
money the county has coming in, going out and what the general fund
has in it at any given time.
Fewer fund balances to calculate would take some of the guesswork
out of future financial decisions and allow a more accurate view of
the bottom line of the general budget at any given time.
Many of the departments have fund balances that are kept in place
and accumulated from year to year for practical purposes. There are
numerous reasons that these funds were started that way, such as
motor fuel taxes being pooled over the years to aid in high-cost
highway projects. The Logan County Health Department administrator,
Mark Hilliard, has explained to committee members that the
tuberculosis fund needs to be kept high because even a small
outbreak would carry significant costs.
Likewise there are some fund balances that carry a negative
figure. Animal control has been accumulating a negative figure for
some years. The negative figure shows on the books only, as the
county has transferred whatever funds were needed to keep the
facility operational out of the general fund.
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Whether positive or negative, wherever it can be done, Ruben has
proposed eliminating as many fund balances as possible, "zeroing
them out," he says. This will make fewer figures to calculate to get
a more accurate picture of the general fund balance at any given
time. He thinks this will be particularly helpful as the year
progresses, when the figures can be checked closer during
The budget does not have many or extreme changes in revenues or
expenditures, and in general is showing stability, or maybe even a
County Clerk Sally Litterly has prepared the county tax extension
figure of 2.5 percent of the Consumer Price Index for next year. The
increase comes from new property developments. The estimated income
has grown from $3,067,561.90, compared with $3,005,116 the previous
Illini Bio-Energy has indicated that they will not be
participating in the enterprise zone, so there will be some added
income when that project is initiated.
A new motel and other businesses going up in Lincoln's business
district will bring more sales tax revenue.
One expenditure that committee members chuckled about and enjoyed
sliding over was the $30,000 that is budgeted in cooperation with
the Lincoln & Logan County Development Partnership. Board chairman
Dick Logan said, "There's a lot of activity going on there, I can
tell you that, after last night's meeting." Committeeman Terry Werth
backed him up, saying, "That's money well spent!"
Another evidence of improvement is in the hotel-motel taxes. Main
Street Lincoln, which is given 0.5 percent of those funds, was
budgeted at $10,000 for this year and may see an additional $2,000
As soon as Tuesday night's adjustments and corrections have been
applied to the budget, Ruben said that copies would be given to all
board members so that they have a few days to review it.
The 2008 budget will be presented and discussed at the
board-of-the-whole meeting on Oct. 11 and taken to a vote on Oct 16.
It will be put on public display for 30 days.
The 2007 fiscal year ends on Nov. 30.