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Kane County plans for future financial challenges

GENEVA – A plan intended to help protect Kane County from future financial challenges has received initial support.

Finance Director Joe Onzick is asking the Kane County Board to use part of last year’s $9.7 million surplus to establish an emergency reserve fund and a property tax freeze protection fund that would only be used in certain circumstances.

He introduced the proposed funds during the Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday as part of a larger presentation about the five-year financial plan for 2014 to 2018.

The plan – which is a working document – shows that a $176,000 deficit is expected in 2017 and a $993,000 deficit is anticipated in 2018 if the nonpayroll expenses remain flat and the county doesn’t cut costs or enhance revenues.

Given the potential for a deficit, Onzick is proposing the creation of a property tax freeze protection fund. It would act as an insurance policy to ensure the county can fund operations through 2018 without increasing the property tax levy.

“It’s just there to protect us,” Onzick said, noting $1 million of the 2013 surplus would be funneled into that account.

Additionally, he said, $2 million would be channeled into an emergency reserve fund. He said those funds would be used during severe economic events, such as the Great Recession or to fund an emergency expenditure.

County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen said it’s a matter of when – not if – Kane County will be affected by another recession.

“Is Kane County going to be prepared for it?” Lauzen asked.

The proposed funds received support Wednesday from the Finance/Budget Committee.

The committee also approved the creation of another fund that will be used to hire off-duty county police officers to monitor construction speed zones.

It will use fines from such speeding tickets as its revenue source.

Onzick said the remainder of the $9.7 million surplus would be allocated to three other accounts, including the capital fund.

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