McLean County Administrator Camille Rodriguez presented a $102.8 million budget proposal on Tuesday that would keep the property tax rate flat and give 1.5% pay raises to non-union staff.
While staff received 2.25% raises this year, the county plans to restore merit raises in 2020.
The spending plan marks a 6% increase over the current budget, relying on Illinois’ gas tax increase, the state’s improved reimbursements for probation officers and court services, and increased interest on investments as three improved funding streams.
“The increase in the motor fuel tax is part and parcel of that,” Rodriguez said. “We also know that some of the income that the highway department logs for the work on wind farms is part and parcel of that as well.”
The highway department stands to see one of the biggest increases in the budget, from $12.8 million this year to $17.7 million.
“The highway department is going to have a lot of work to do in the coming year,” Rodriguez told the board.
The county proposes a tax levy of $36.3 million, a less than 1% increase from this year, but the tax rate would remain the same at 91 cents per $100 assessed valuation. The county is projecting a 1.4% rise in taxable land values.
The budget calls for the county clerk’s office to fund a second polling site on the Illinois State University campus at Watterson Towers and pays for two early voting locations on the ISU campus.
Rodriguez said staff was not able to fund all of County Clerk Kathy Michael’s election requests, it but settled on her second-preferred option in discussions following a recent County Finance Committee meeting.
“(Michael) was very helpful to county administration staff in providing options for us in building the budget, so most of what she requested (is included),” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said the county is not counting on any additional revenue from cannabis sales, with recreational marijuana becoming legal on Jan. 1.
She said the County Board hasn’t decided whether it will seek to land a cannabis dispensary.
“It wouldn’t be a false revenue stream, but I didn’t feel I could adequately predict what the revenue stream would be, so it just behooved us to be more conservative in regard to this possibility,” Rodriguez said.
The County Board’s oversight committees will review the proposed spending plan in the coming months and is expected to vote in November.
In other business, the County Board approved hiring Seattle-based MTG to study a potential overhaul of the county’s electronic justice system. It signed off on a near $250,00 payment to the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services to reimburse the state for Medicaid overpayments for McLean County Nursing Home residents. The board also approved modernizing two elevators at the building that houses the McLean County Health Department. The projected cost is about $430,000.
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