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County Board proposes budget sans levy hike

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT

GENEVA – Kane County’s government has proposed a spending plan for next year that does not include a property tax increase.

But in presenting the budget to the public, the county’s chief executive said she worries the items not included in the budget could make the county’s financial situation less predictable.

Tuesday, the County Board placed on file for public review its 2013 budget.

The $231.7 million spending plan would mark a 1.89 percent decrease from this year’s total county spending.

The County Board has proposed to collect a little less in property taxes in 2013, while projecting slightly more revenue from other taxes, including sales and the county’s share of the state income tax.

The budget includes no increase in the county’s property tax levy, meaning as property continues to lose value at a rate of 6 to 7 percent annually, the County Board would receive about $31.4 million in property taxes next year, a decrease of 1.23 percent from 2012.

At the same time, the county estimates it should collect about $18.6 million in taxes on sales, income and other sources in 2013, an increase of about 1.5 percent compared to 2012, as a result of improving economic conditions.

While some urged the County Board to seek a tax levy increase, the majority of the board rejected it, agreeing to forgo the lost revenue.

The budget also includes money to give most non-union, non-elected county employees a 2 percent raise in 2013. That money is slated to come out of the county’s contingency fund – money that would normally be set aside for unexpected expenses.

The budget, however, does not include any provision of money for salary increases for union employees. The County Board on Tuesday opted to postpone action on several union contracts until the day the county approves its budget.

County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughay said the decision to avoid directly addressing those contracts within the proposed budget could present problems for the board in the future.

McConnaughay noted that someone else will be the county’s chief executive next year because she is seeking election to the Illinois Senate. But, as she is departing, she said it is one of her jobs “to point out shortcomings in the budget proposal.”

She said the lack of direct provision could create friction between the County Board and other county elected officials because the current budget proposal could force cuts elsewhere to account for greater wages and benefits for unionized employees.

“[County Board members] need to decide what their policy is on that,” said McConnaughay, noting “you didn’t hear any proposals on that.”

“In this current economic environment, growing the overall cost of government is a bad idea,” she said.

The budget will remain on file for public review – available at the County Governmental Complex in Geneva and online at www.countyofkane.org – for 15 days. The County Board is scheduled to vote on the budget at a special meeting Oct. 25.

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