GENEVA – In the past, when Kane County’s government had money left over, the typical response was to put it into a savings account to pay for unexpected expenses.
This year, however, county officials appear poised to set aside money to make sure the county can deal with a different kind of issue: an unanticipated cut to money coming into county coffers from Springfield and elsewhere.
Later this month, the County Board will consider a measure, suggested by the county’s Finance Department and backed by County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen, to direct a surplus of about $7.6 million in the county’s general operating fund from spending on county programs to shoring up areas of expected need.
“We have a headwind building up,” Lauzen said. “The sooner we plan for things, the better we’ll be.”
Lauzen said he has been particularly rattled in recent days by proposals in Springfield to trim the income tax revenue the state shares with local governments.
Should a proposal introduced by Gov. Pat Quinn become law, it could produce a budget hole in Kane County of at least $2 million, Lauzen said.
Applying some of the money from this year’s budget to future years would allow the county to be better prepared for such a hit.
Lauzen also called on the board to dedicate $1.4 million toward the county’s public employee pension obligations, $1.8 million for an arbitration award for workers at the county jail and $4.4 million for infrastructure projects.
While the money has not been designated to specific infrastructure projects, the county has been asked in recent months for significant funding to improve operations at county court buildings. But Lauzen and others said the county should begin preparing now for future demands.
“For us, this is a first-time concept, to allocate money into future fiscal years,” said County Board member John Hoscheit, R-St. Charles, and chairman of the county’s Finance Committee.
The Finance Committee endorsed the proposal, which is scheduled to be considered by the County Board Executive Committee on Wednesday.