BY BRIAN L. HUCHEL
The proposed Vermilion County budget has been passed on to the scrutiny of the general public.
Vermilion County Board members Tuesday night approved placing the budget for the upcoming fiscal year up for public display in the county clerk’s office on the first floor of the courthouse annex. The budget, per statute requirements, must stay on public display for 30 days before it can be voted on by the board.
The county clerk’s office is located on the first floor of the Courthouse annex, 6 N. Vermilion St. The building is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.
The budget must be approved by the board prior to the beginning of the 2012-13 fiscal year, which starts Dec. 1.
Once approved, the upcoming fiscal year will be the sixth consecutive in which the county has not asked for a tax increase from residents. 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.
Mike Marron of District 2 was one of two board members who voted against releasing the budget out for public inspection. Craig Chambers of District 6 also voted against releasing the budget.
Marron noted concerns about not having a more long-term plan for the county. He noted the current deficit in the proposed budget figures and said county offices and departments have been good in the past about returning funds to offset the deficit.
“Sooner or later we’ll have to play with the hand we’re dealt,” he said, adding such a plan would assist the county in dealing with money still owed by the state as well as maintaining county monetary reserves.
“It would be prudent to have a plan moving forward,” Marron said.
Jim McMahon, county board chairman, dismissed Marron’s comments, noting the work the county has already done in handling facilities such the Vermilion Manor Nursing Home, which has dealt with large deficits owed by the state.
“If you don’t think we have a plan, you’re 100 percent wrong,” McMahon said.
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.
Despite no tax increase, there are some weak spots among the budget’s figures, beginning with the county-owned nursing home, which is expected to be a $1.2 million loss during the upcoming fiscal year.