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McLean County Presents ‘Optimistic’ Budget Amid Pandemic

Virtual County Board meeting
Eric Stock
McLean County Board Chairman John McIntyre presided over a virtual County Board meeting Tuesday at the Government Center.

McLean County government officials say their proposed 2021 budget has been able to withstand the financial hits caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Tuesday, county Administrator Camille Rodriguez presented a $104.5 million budget to the County Board at its virtual meeting. That’s about a 1% budget over 2020.

Camille Rodriguez wearing face mask
Credit McLean County Government
McLean County Administrator Camille Rodriguez presented what she called an "optimistic" 2021 budget given the financial uncertainties the pandemic has caused.

“A few months ago, like (all) governments, municipalities, especially in the area, we were concerned about revenues and we’re pleasantly optimistic at this point about this recommended budget,” said Rodriguez.

The budget calls for 1% pay raises for county staff in January and another 1% bump in July. She said staffing levels will remain the same.

Rodriguez said the administration asked each department to trim 4% from its budget requests, adding many of those cuts are in supplies and won’t impact public services.

“There’s ups and downs with this budget, but our commitment and the department heads’ and McLean County leadership's commitment to continue to ask for less, and do more with less, was evident this year,” Rodriguez said.

The county’s proposed property tax rate would essentially remain the same at 91 cents per $100 assessed valuation. The owner of a $165,000 home would pay about $502 in property taxes to the county next year. The tax levy would increase about 1.5% to $36,922,634. 

Assistant Administrator Cassy Taylor said that modest growth in the property tax base helped offset lower sales tax revenue.

“Fluctuations that we saw during this pandemic were in correlation to changes in shelter-in-place and fluctuations in sales tax,” Taylor said. “The property tax is more stable.”

The county board is expected to vote on the budget in November.

Board vacancy

In another matter, board Chairman John McIntyre said the administration will accept applications and resumes for the county board vacancy in District 8. Carlo Robustelli, a board member since 2013, announced he’s resigning because he is moving to Pennsylvania to become vice president of advancement of Dickinson College in Carlisle.

The county will accept applications until noon Oct. 7. Candidates will appear before the board's executive committee on Oct. 13. McIntyre plans to present a nomination to the full board at its Oct. 20 meeting.

The term expires in December when a new board is sworn in. McIntyre said he won’t select someone who is on the November ballot.

“I think that’s unfair to anyone that’s on any ballot from any political party,” McIntyre said. “That is just something that we could not do.”

The county is required to replace Robustelli with a Democrat who lives in District 8, an area that includes portions of central and west Bloomington. Democrat Lea Cline is running against Republican Jordan Baker for the seat on Nov. 3.

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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.
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