Kendall OKs budget after several votes
By Steve Lord email@example.com November 28, 2011 9:30PM
Updated: January 1, 2012 8:09AM
YORKVILLE — The Kendall County Board Monday approved about a $66.4 million budget for 2012 with a promise to shift the tax levy around to effectively freeze the amount the county will ask for from taxpayers.
The vote came after more than an hour of debate and several failed votes on a budget Monday night. The board needed to approve a budget by Wednesday to keep the county government functioning by the beginning of December.
“This budget allows for a compromise on freezing the levy completely,” said Board Chairman John Purcell. “I think we need to look more toward the taxpayer.”
The new budget will include about a $23 million general fund — the county’s basic operating fund — which is projected to carry about a $1.23 million deficit by the end of the 2012 fiscal year.
County officials plan to cover that from the projected fund balance of about $13 million. That balance will leave the county with enough money to run the government for about 5.8 months, if there suddenly was no other revenue. The board has consistently tried to keep a fund balance of at least six months of general fund operations.
The budget adopted Monday was amended from one the board considered two weeks ago that contemplated an $836,000 deficit. The difference in the amended budget comes from $419,630 in new taxes the board could have taken from the tax levy.
That was the amount the county would net from new construction and a 1.5 consumer price index allowed under the tax cap. But board members in the end decided not to take that amount, cutting slightly the amount of money the county will ask for from taxpayers.
But not taking the $419,630, board financial officials estimated the owner of $200,000 house will pay about $9 less to the county, the owner of a $300,000 house about $12 less, next year.
But that’s confusing, because those taxpayers still will pay more in total to the county next year than this year, because the tax rate will go up due to the decrease in assessed value across the county. In other words, with fewer taxpayers paying the same levy, they all will pay more, albeit $9 less than they would have, on a $200,000 house.
Still, board members favoring the amended budget said it was worth it to give the taxpayers even a small break.
“I thought we were going to try something different,” said board member Robert Davidson. “We’re supposed to be representing the taxpayer.”
But some board members said the relative small savings for taxpayers was not worth endangering the county’s ability to raise revenue in the future.
“I think we are representing the taxpayer,” said Board member Anne Vickery, the Finance Committee chairman who supported the budget with the smaller deficit. “I don’t think people will complain about the $9, but they will if services are lost.”
To get the savings in the levy, the county played what Vickery said “looks like a shell game” with the different levies. Board members left most of the levies alone. Because they are limited by the tax cap, if they did not take the extra allowed this year, they would lose it forever.
But the Public Building Commission tax levy is not capped, so county officials will lower that by an additional $419,630 to have the effect of freezing the entire levy. The county already was going to cut $1 million from that levy, for a total decrease of about $1.4 million.
The budget will leave the Health Department tax levy where it has been, allowing it its natural growth. But to do that, Health Department officials agreed to pay an additional $29,000 in rent for its building to the county general fund.