The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

October 5, 2013

Board to make budget public

No 'pro or con' reaction from area residents

BY BRIAN L. HUCHEL bhuchel@dancomnews.com
The Commercial-News

---- — DANVILLE — Residents are quiet so far about the proposed fiscal year 2014 budget and levy passed by the Vermilion County Board Finance Committee this week.

County board members will vote at Tuesday’s meeting to put the budget out for public inspection. By statute, the budget must be open for public perusal for 30 days before it can be voted on by the board.

Board chairman Gary Weinard said he’s not received an overwhelming “pro or con reaction” to the budget from residents in the days following the committee approval. The budget calls for a small property tax increase — the first in six years for the county budget.

“People are saying ‘Oh gosh, I was hoping that would carry forward,” Weinard said. “But once they understand the PSB rent went up half a million dollars, they shrug and say that was going to happen.”

The PSB rent payment increase comes as a result of PSB board taking over the Juvenile Detention Center last year. The extra costs — just more than $500,000 — were covered in last year’s budget by fund balances.

Although exact revenue and expenditure figures were not released at the committee meeting, Weinard has said proposed budget will be a deficit budget with figures similar to the budget passed by the county last year. The deficit figure will be $1.08 million, a little more than $20,000 more than last year’s budget.

Weinard told finance committee members he expects part of the deficit to be made up by officeholders returning unspent funds. In the 2011-2012 fiscal year, office holders and department heads returned $1.5 million in unspent funds.

The property increase will equal out to $5.60 for a person who pays a $1,000 property tax bill, $14 on a $2,500 tax bill and $27 on a $5,000 property tax bill. For a $1,000 tax bill, the increase is ½ percent increase in the overall tax bill and 3.6 percent increase in the county’s portion of the bill.

Barring any setbacks, the full board would then vote on the budget and levy at its November board meeting. By law, the county must have a budget in place by the beginning of the next fiscal year, which starts on Dec. 1.

Also at Tuesday’s board meeting:

n Board members will vote on a new set of adoption fee increases for the county’s Department of Animal Regulation.

A fee-increases proposal originally went before the full county board in August, but were tabled and sent back to committees after public disapproval of the proposal.

The new proposal calls for a $125 adoption fee for all dogs. Cats older than 1 year will cost $75 while kittens and cats under 1 year will cost $90.

While complaints originally led to the reassessment of the adoption fee hike, Weinard said his office has not received comments about the new set of fees scheduled to go before the full board.

“The question seems to be answered,” Weinard said. “We needed to make the adjustment to help cover costs a bit out there.”

He added it will remain to be seen how much of a trade results between the increase in fees and any reduction in pet adoptions.

On average, care for cats and kittens costs the county between $85 and $94. Dogs and puppies cost the county between $104 and $121. In each case, the price to spay and neuter the animals ($38 for dogs and $42 for cats) is the highest cost, followed by rabies shots.

The county has not had an adoption fee increase since 2006 when the adoption fees were increased by $5.50 for all animals.

The new set of fees was passed by both the finance committee and the health and education committee.

n Danville resident A.J. Wright will be considered to fill the seat left vacant by the death of District 6 county board member Larry Mills.

The county’s credentials committee will vote on Wright’s credentials and make the appropriate committee assignments prior to the full board meeting. Wright was nominated by the county’s Democratic Party to fill the vacant seat.