The headline above was in The Daily Line and, to some extent, it reflects the strategy McHenry County’s Administrator Peter Austin laid out at Thursday’s McHenry County Board Committee of the Whole meeting.
He began by saying, “You as policy makers have given us real clear directions.”
He explained, projected revenues are $208.2 million, as are projected expenditures.
Revenue is estimated to decrease three percent.
There is, however, “a $1.4 million shortfall deficit,” Austin said.
That will be taken from General Fund reserves.
Cook County is doing something similar.
However, Austin expects the $1.4 million to “come back next year.”
Higher paid employees are retiring and newly hired personnel not only are paid less, but their health care benefits are leaner.
Money is in the budget for union employee wage increases and for non-union employees 2 1/4% pay hikes are budgeted.
The levy will not decrease, as it has for the last three years.
And, it won’t be flat as it pretty much was for the seven years before that.
The funds whose levies will be increased can be seen below:
If the levy were kept constant, current taxpayers would see a real estate tax reduction because taxes on new construction would mean the total paid by last year’s property owners would be less.
The recommendation was that, instead, the County levy for new growth.
That is estimated to bring in $323,000 more money than is projected to be collected when this years tax collection cycle is completed.
Austin pointed out that head count will be “essentially flat.”
However, the replacement of manpower with computers requires higher expenditures on software.
Board member Carolyn Schofield asked about expanding the County’s Valley Hi Nursing Home.
Austin said, “We don’t want to expand until we know we can staff it.”
Discussion ensued concerning the ability of the County to sustain the cuts that have been previously made.
“I am concerned about continued erosion, sustainability.
“If we go further down [there will be a] bigger hole to climb out of.
“I think there is general agreement to capture new growth.”
At this point Chairman Jack Franks said something that did not make sense to me.
“If we can’t take it (new growth), everybody’s taxes would go up.”
As I pointed out above, if the County does not increase its levy by taking new growth, everybody’s taxes would go down, other things being equal.
I listened to a fair amount of the discussion about the Covid-19 discussion.
I was shocked when Franks rudely interrupted Schofield.
And I mean really rudely interrupted her.
Listen to the meeting when Franks clearly displays his “I’m in charge” aspect of his personality.