Stal, at that meeting, questioned the county’s change from using fund balances to stave off property tax increases like in previous years. Knight indicated he could not vote for the levy because he told his constituents he wouldn’t support a tax increase.
According to Weinard, he has not received complaints from county residents. Those he has talked to consider the small increase a “fact of life,” he said.
“Most people look at it as one of those things that just happens,” he said. “Things do cost more and you need to increase revenue to meet those needs.”
According to county numbers, the fund balance for the county’s general fund has dropped from $9 million in November 2007 to less than $8 million in November last year. Estimates predict the fund will drop closer to $5 million by November 2014.
According to Weinard, some believe the county can work off of $30 million in cash balance.
“But the cash is in a dedicated fund that can’t transfer money out to pay something else,” he said. “The law doesn’t allow me to do that.”
Only a simple majority of the county board is needed to pass the budget and levy at Tuesday’s meeting. By law, the county must have a budget in place by the beginning of the next fiscal year, which starts on Dec. 1. The county can not operate without a budget.
“If they’re not willing to support what’s being proposed, I hope they’ll stand up and say where it is they think that cuts should be made,” Weinard said, noting that if a budget can’t be reached the county “won’t open its doors” on Dec. 1.
In addition to unused funds from county offices to help the deficit budget, the county is also expecting a $15 million increase in assessed valuation, but officials will not know for sure until late winter whether that will come to fruition. County officials estimate another $500,000 could be coming as a result of payments owed the county when it owned the former Vermilion Manor Nursing Home.