BY BRIAN L. HUCHEL
Although Vermilion County Board members’ long-term fiscal views might differ, they approved the county’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year Tuesday.
It marked the last meeting of the current county board following the Nov. 6 election of several new members.
Board members began business Tuesday by reconvening their October meeting to vote on the proposed county budget and levy. Both passed unanimously. The budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year has been on public display at the county clerk’s office since the board’s October board meeting.
Now approved, the upcoming fiscal year will be the sixth consecutive in which the county has not asked for a tax increase from residents. Proposed budget figures indicate a slight decrease in levy totals from $11,589,132 for the current 2011-12 fiscal year to $11,581,810 in the upcoming 2012-13 fiscal year. The difference is just more than $7,300.
Overall budget numbers this year show an estimated overall revenue total of $42.02 million for the fiscal year, about $5 million under the $47.81 million estimated for revenues. The rate will be $1.44 per $100 of assessed property value.
Vermilion County Board Chairman Jim McMahon said he did not expect any opposition to the proposed budget Tuesday night.
“When you can set a budget out with no tax increases and you’re not cutting customer services and you can maintain status quo without asking the taxpayers for more money, there’s no way no one should ever vote ‘no’ on that,” he said following the meeting.
Mike Marron of District 2 was one of two board members who voted against releasing the budget to the public in October. On Tuesday, Marron voted to approve the budget.
“My issue was with the long-term planning and I believe the long-term planning
is a ball that is in our court,” he said, referring to the Republican majority that will take over the board as of Dec. 4.
Despite no tax increase, there are some weak spots among the budget’s figures, beginning with the county-owned Vermilion Manor Nursing Home, which is expected to be a $1.2 million loss during the upcoming fiscal year.
A referendum giving the county authority to sell the nursing home passed in the general election and McMahon said board members will have to know its options in regards to the nursing home in the coming fiscal year. He also hoped the other referendum — which authorized the county to establish an electrical aggregation program — will bring in enough money to offset payments on a bond issue for repairs on the county courthouse.
“You see growth coming,” McMahon said. “Keep this tax base down and the economy will grow. Raise the tax base, and you can watch the economy shrink fast.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting:
According to Fourez, the plan calls for an animal shelter to operate for the city and county as one entity that is managed by a third-party charitable organization. The organization will be overseen by a board of city and county representatives.
Current figures indicate the county could save as much as $115,000 each year through this idea, Fourez said, adding that number could be higher.
Given the county’s current operations, Fourez said it is the city’s decision whether to pursue the idea.
“The ball is in the city’s court, not ours,” he told board members, adding there is no need to change the county’s current operations at this time.
If Danville officials opt not to pursue such a plan, Fourez suggested to the board that the county could still benefit from such a plan using a charitable organization to run the animal shelter.