EDWARDSVILLE — Madison County Chairman Alan J. Dunstan will present a balanced budget to the County Board at its Wednesday, Nov. 19, meeting that has been reduced from the previous fiscal year.
Of significant importance to Madison County taxpayers, the budget was prepared based on a drop in the county property tax levy.
The proposed 2015 Madison County budget of $130,316,998 is a slight decrease from the 2014 budget of $130,418,240.
Dunstan said the general fund budget has now returned to its pre-recession (2008) level.
“Because Madison County officials have effectively managed their respective offices and have been diligent in their budget management, county government as a whole has been able to cut expenditures to the point where we were able to cover inflationary increases, including wage increases, for five years,” Dunstan said in a press release Thursday.
The proposed property tax levy for 2015 will be one-tenth of 1 percent lower than the previous year, Dunstan said.
“From 2012 to 2014, the property tax levy will have increased an average of less than 1 percent, primarily as a result of reductions in spending and virtually no increase in property assessments,” Dunstan said. “Revenue from property taxes represents approximately 25 percent of the county’s revenue. But we make a concentrated effort to minimize any increase in property taxes through other sources of revenue.”
Dunstan cited the monies generated from interest on the county’s investments as an example of a revenue source.
“That is why county officials and members of the county board have been concerned about the diminishing returns the past few years on the county’s investments,” Dunstan said.
The chairman also presented a detailed capital project plan that includes $5.6 million in current projects and $2.1 million for projects budgeted during the 2015 fiscal year.
“Funding has also been reserved for the courthouse HVAC replacement and interior improvement project, which hasn’t yet been designed,” Dunstan said.
Most of the capital projects are building and facility upgrades, or major computer or equipment-related. Dunstan said the county is spending almost $10 million in reserves for current and proposed capital projects.
The county capital project plan additionally calls for annually earmarking $1.5 million from the general fund to pay for jail improvements. That same amount was established in the current fiscal year (2014) to pay for covering the anticipated annual debt service for jail bonds.
“Since the jail referendum did not give the county the authority to finance the project and complete the needed work over the short term, we will move forward over many years on a pay-as-we-go basis,” Dunstan said.
Dunstan reiterated the planned jail improvements would be performed without raising taxes.
“The same revenue reserved for debt service will now be applied annually to jail improvements,” Dunstan said. “The only difference is the work will take many years to complete and the costs will be adjusted upward due to inflation. The county has retained the services of an architect to revise the jail improvement plan, prioritizing the most-needed improvements with emphasis on the jail’s deteriorating infrastructure and life safety issues.”