EDWARDSVILLE — Madison County Board Chairman Alan Dunstan ended his tenure as chairman on Wednesday, saying he leaves the job with pride about working as a team with elected officials and county employees.
Dunstan lost the Nov. 8 election to Treasurer Kurt Prenzler by 508 votes. Prenzler, a Republican, will take over the chairmanship on Dec. 5 with a new County Board that will have 15 Republicans, 13 Democrats and 1 independent.
Dunstan and outgoing board members received plaques recognizing their service in a packed board room that filled with applause after board members said their parting words.
Dunstan, 59, became chairman in 2002 and held the distinction of being the only voter-elected chairman in the county’s history.
“It’s been the best 14 years of my life,” he said.
The chairman gave credit to his colleagues from both political parties and to employees for making the county “the envy of the state of Illinois.
“We’ve had our differences, but we’ve had a lot of things to be proud of,” he said. “I think we’ve done a tremendous job working as a team.
“I am proud of this county; I am proud of this County Board,” he said. “I can leave this job holding my head high. I wish Mr. Prenzler the best of luck and I wish the next County Board the best of luck.”
Along the way, the county has faced difficult decisions — including cutting its workforce by some 325 employees since Dunstan became chairman.
“If the state of Illinois and the federal government operated like Madison County, we would be a much better nation and a much better state than we are today,” he said.
“I know we are in the best financial shape of any county in Illinois,” he said. “We are debt-free.”
As if to underscore that point, the board adopted a leaner tax levy and budget for the next fiscal year, continuing a trend from years past. The budget passage wasn’t without political friction, as Republicans Judy Kuhn of Trenton, Michael “Mick” Madison of Bethalto and Lisa Ciampoli of Collinsville voted against it.
The $127,475,976 budget, in effect from Dec. 1 to Nov. 30, 2017, represents a 1.3 percent decrease from the previous fiscal year. The tax levy calls for the county to collect $32,552,445 in property taxes, about 3 percent less than the previous year. Last year, the board approved a 2.3 percent reduction over the 2014 levy.
The biggest part of next year’s levy – $10,520,498 – is for the general fund, which accounts for 37 percent of the budget. Last year, the county levied $10,930,387 for the general fund. The county also levies for the Juvenile Detention Home, Health Department, Illinois Municipal Retirement, Social Security, Mental Health Board, Historical Museum, Veterans Assistance Commission, highway, bridges, matching tax, and tort judgments and liability insurance funds.
The budget calls for expenditures of $2.5 million for work on correcting deficiencies at the jail and $2 million for heating, ventilation and air-conditioning work and Americans with Disabilities Act renovations at the courthouse. The amount budgeted for capital projects represents an 18.7 percent drop from the previous year, the largest decrease in the budget.
The Sheriff’s Department and jail comprise the biggest part of the county’s expenses at 26.5 percent, followed by personnel expenses at 11.4 percent.
Property taxes account for 28 percent of the county’s revenue, followed by intergovernmental revenue at 22 percent.
The budget is on the county’s website at advnews.link/MadCoBudget.
In other business:
• The board approved a $400,000 loan to the village of Pontoon Beach for sewer work in the Long Lake Watershed. The loan term is for 7 years at a 3 percent interest rate.
• The board approved a $200,000 loan to the city of Madison to demolish property at 400, 401, 402, 404, 405 and 406 Madison Ave. The loan term is for 5 years at a 3 percent interest rate.
• The board approved allocating $142,500 as the county’s share of a project on Bethalto’s Central Street, from 200 feet east of Longfellow Street to Moreland Road. The project encompasses road reconstruction, drainage improvements and new sidewalks with Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant ramps.