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Snow removal takes toll on county budget

Published: Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014 7:36 a.m. CDT

GENEVA – As snow fell outside the Kane County Government Center on Wednesday morning, County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen told the Executive Committee that “truly uncontrollable” events such as this winter’s frequent snowstorms demonstrate the importance of managing budgets in all departments.

To date, he said, crews have been out 56 times compared to 19 times last year. The average is 50 times per season, he said. This has led to costs nearing budget, Lauzen said.

Overtime costs have reached $222,000, leaving about $29,000 in that budget, he said.

Additionally, he said, county crews have used more than 10,000 tons of salt and spent about what it currently has budgeted.

The county does, however, have 4,000 tons of salt on hand and can received 5,000 tons from its supplier at the contracted price, Lauzen said.

“That is really a fortunate position,” he said.

Lauzen said these unforeseen costs demonstrate why it is important for the various county departments to manage their budgets.

As he did last week, Lauzen noted that Coroner Rob Russell went about $19,000 over budget last year.

The chairman further criticized the coroner for issuing a news release about the issue and for saying he hopes the board will help his office begin the process of appropriating capital for improvements.

Lauzen said it is a “sad irony” that the only person who didn’t contribute to the short-term budgetary excess is the first one in line to “consume what other people have produced.”

Russell, who wasn’t at Wednesday’s meeting, said by phone that he issues news releases not to seek publicity but to tell the public the truth. He said it is unfair to compare his office with others in the county because he had to make adjustments for areas mandated by federal and state law – overtime pay and autopsy costs.

“All the other offices weren’t in violation of state and federal law,” Russell said. “My office was.”

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