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Local

Finance committee approves extra $88K for 2013 coroner's budget

GENEVA – After the Kane County Board's Finance/Budget Committee approved an extra $88,000 for the Kane County Coroner's Office this fiscal year, Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen on Wednesday stressed "holding the line" on future budget expenditures.

The committee approved an amendment for the coroner's office budget, which will add about $88,000 to the fiscal 2013 budget to cover autopsies, toxicology expenses, overtime and fuel costs. Officials noted that the $88,000 figure was about $1,000 more than previously reported because of a mathematical error that has since been corrected.

Starting in 2014, the coroner's budget still would be locked in at $843,000 for the next three years, but Kane County Coroner Rob Russell's office overspent a little more than $88,000 this year, Lauzen said.

Russell initially proposed a 2014 budget of nearly $944,000 in August, but he agreed to keep his budget at $843,000 for the next three years. The coroner's budget in 2012 was $757,000, and officials in that office argued that the department was underfunded by the previous administration, Lauzen said.

Lauzen emphasized the need to "be conscious about what tools we have to hold the line on expenditures."

"We give, we take and we come to a reasonable compromise. I think that’s an important step forward," he said. "You have to ask yourself, 'How do you hold the line if a budget has been overspent and has not been authorized?'"

Lauzen said once a budget is approved, it's up to an elected official to determine how that money is spent. He said one way the county can hold department heads accountable is by assigning a nonpartial third party to review a budget expenditure, but that can be done only after a department goes over budget.

He asked Kane County Sheriff Pat Perez to explain what practice is in place if any overspending in a particular department occurs.

"In the past, we actually would start our next year with a new budget without the amount we were over the previous year, which I can't say was a good thing because we were kind of behind the eight ball," Perez said.

Lauzen said the $88,000 added to the coroner's budget will come out of the county's contingency fund, which likely would have about $350,000 left at the end of this budget year.

"It does look like we've managed within our constraints," he said about the contingency fund. "We'll have lived within our means."

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