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Kane County government needs $2 million in cuts

GENEVA – Kane County has a $2 million problem.

Wednesday, Executive Finance Director Joe Onzick told County Board members that each standing committee must review their departments’ and offices’ budgets and encourage them to make cuts where possible to reduce an anticipated $2 million shortfall in the 2015 general fund.

“Obviously, the deficit must be eliminated,” Onzick said.

The budget was created with the assumption that the property tax levy remains flat for the fourth consecutive year, Board Chairman Chris Lauzen said.

The objective, he said, is “not to make it harder on our residents.”

Revenues are budgeted at about $82.2 million, whereas expenditures are estimated at about $84.3 million.

Expenses include $266,680 for new staff – an administrative assistant for the auditor, four youth counselors for the Juvenile Justice Center, a receptionist for the public defender and a sheriff’s deputy. Nearly $124,000 in health and dental benefits is requested for those new positions.

Health and dental benefits also are expected to increase for existing staff. The requested budget is about $9.5 million, compared to nearly $8.9 million in 2014.

Onzick said requests for extra personnel must be carefully evaluated, and the cost of health insurance must be reduced – a topic that was recently discussed and will be revisited at the Committee of the Whole meeting in August.

Other areas to revisit include the utilities budget, which is set to grow from $1.7 million to $2 million, Onzick said.

He noted the cost of natural gas is projected to increase by 30 percent, and the city of St. Charles has imposed surcharges on water and sewer service.

Additionally, Onzick said, user fee revenues should cover the cost of services provided.

The county is investing $23,500 in an independent cost-of-service study that will determine whether user fees collected by the clerk’s office, recorder’s office, sheriff’s office and Animal Control are sufficient.

Such a study is required before those offices’ user fees could be increased, Onzick said. He said other user fees under the county’s control will be reviewed as time and resources allow.

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