County’s Budget Timeline

Sounds like a boring subject, doesn’t it.

Just look at what was presented to the McHenry County Board’s Finance Committee this week:

McHenry County's proposed budget timeline.

McHenry County’s proposed budget timeline.

How do professionals do budgets?

I learned that lesson the hard way in my first real job–being a baby Budget Examiner at the United States Bureau of the Budget (now called the Office of Budget and Management). It was a heady experience. I was twenty-three and assigned the Small Business Administration. It had the largest budget of any independent agency.

When I asked the SBA a question, those getting the inquiry didn’t know if it was from me alone or from somewhere in Lyndon Johnson’s White House.

The budget didn’t have a lot of line items.

I learned what they were about and, when I was preparing the budget, I tried to figure out what was needed for each purpose.

Then I added up the figures and presented the result to my Section Chief, Sam Lawrence.

He looked at my first proposal and sent me back to do it again.

He looked at my second proposal and again asked for a re-do.

The third time, he taught me a lesson that the County Board has learned in recent years.

“I don’t care what those numbers above the bottom line say,” Lawrence told me in exasperation.

“I want that number (he was pointing to the bottom line) to be (a specific number he stated).”

I can only imagine the amusement my Senior Budget Examiner Roger Adkins had watching my learing experience.

The lesson learned was that people preparing budgets need to decide on the bottom line first.

So, what should the County be doing first?

Deciding whether it wants to continue its policy of not asking for additional money from current taxpayers or not.

Currently, an attempt, imperfect though it is, is made to ask for just the extra money that new construction during the year will provide if taxed at the same rate as existing property.

Nowhere on that timeline do I see that decision…unless it is the first time the budget goes to the entire County Board on September 15th.

Way before then, it will be known if the approximately $3 million that Governor Bruce Rauner wishes to withhold in income tax revenue sharing will be a reality.

If such legislation passes, more time to figure out where to make cuts beats the less time that a September 15th decision would allow before the start of the Fiscal Year on December 1st.


County’s Budget Timeline — 5 Comments

  1. While it does appear that lower budget expectations are evident by the actions of the newly elected Mr. Prim, I do not see evidence of the same attitude in the office of the newly elected Mrs. Gil.

    We will also learn if the management at MCC got the message.

  2. Another factor to consider in advance is the new expense for 2016: Obamacare: Cadillac Health Plan excise tax.

    This will cost 40% of cost of health insurance benefits exceeding a stated price ( exchange silver plan?).

    What budget cuts will be made to enable government and schools to continue to supply health care benefits far in excess of those affordable to average Americans?

  3. My suggestion is that county board members administrators and county officials take pay cuts.

  4. What’s the amount of revenue per year the County has received from the state over the last 15 years.

  5. According to Chicago magazine

    “The collar counties—Lake, McHenry, Kane, Will, and DuPage, not including suburban Cook—continue to pay more of the state’s tax burden, as a percentage, than their population as a percentage of the state’s population (PDF):”

    (followed by a nice graphic of Geographical Distribution Wealth, Population, Tax Collections).

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