EDWARDSVILLE — Treasurer Kurt Prenzler is concerned the Madison County Board on Wednesday will again vote to transfer $3.2 million of excess funds instead of giving it back to taxpayers.
“In October, I made it clear the county has too much money and there should be a 10 percent, or $3.5 million, decrease in the levy,” Prenzler said. “This has been going on the past four years and more than $15 million has been transferred. This is money that could be used to reduce the burden on taxpayers.”
According to the county ordinance, the General Fund is only allowed to maintain six months of operating reserves, which is approximately $23 million.
Prenzler said the chairman gets around the rule by transferring excess money to the Capital Projects Fund. The money is in excess of what the county needs to operate.
“The county has an ordinance limiting the amount of reserves it can keep,” he said. “Rather than lower the amount the county collects in taxes, the money is moved to the Capital Projects Fund, where it is stockpiled.”
A Capital Projects Fund is for major investments that improve county buildings, helps to acquire additional property or fund major equipment purchases.
“It’s been a deceptive practice year after year to shovel money into the Capital Projects Fund,” Prenzler said. “At the end of the fiscal year, there is money left over and rather than return it to taxpayers the County Board votes to transfer it.”
Capital Project Transfers
Fiscal Year: Transfer to Capital Projects Fund
2015: $3.7 million
2014: $3.46 million
2013: $4 million
2012: $4 million
Total Transfers: $15.16 million
— Source County Board Agenda/Minutes
Prenzler said he’s in a unique position to know how much money the county collects and distributes in property taxes. He said he is committed to lowering the levy, which mean reducing the amount collected from taxpayers.
“The question is, ‘Why does the county continue to levy for funds that are not needed?” he asked. “The money belongs back into the hands of the people who earned it.”