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Compromise reached in Kane County coroner’s budget

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013 6:50 a.m. CDT

GENEVA – Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen and Coroner Rob Russell have reached a compromise in their clash over the coroner’s budget.

Russell – who proposed a 2014 budget of nearly $944,000 in August – has agreed to keep the budget at $843,000 for the next three years, barring forces outside his control.

“Our whole budget is a best guess,” Russell said.

Lauzen acknowledged that certain factors, such as union negotiations or unfunded mandates, might require Russell to ask for more money later, but the coroner’s original $900,000-plus request was too much.

“We just can’t afford that,” Lauzen said.

A budget of $843,000 gives the first-term coroner about $86,000 more to work with than was previously budgeted for the county office – $757,000.

Russell said his office, formerly led by the now-deceased Chuck West, had been underfunded.

This year, he tallied a shortfall of about $88,000 because of expenses for autopsies, toxicology, overtime and fuel.

He and Lauzen said they expect the matter to be resolved soon.

The 2013 fiscal year budget amendment is on the agenda for Wednesday’s Finance/Budget Committee Meeting.

“Now that we have the framework of the long-term agreement, we’ll work through the near-term individual challenges,” Lauzen said.

The chairman and coroner recognized other Kane County officials, including Clerk Jack Cunningham and Treasurer David Rickert, who helped them come to their agreement.

“They’ve been around the county a long time,” Russell said. “I yielded to their wisdom. After they understood my argument, it was easier to communicate to the chairman the needs that we had.”

Lauzen said Auditor Terry Hunt, State’s Attorney Joe McMahon and several Kane County Board members also contributed.

“It’s important for us to work together,” Lauzen said. “Our constituents expect that.”

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