Board of commissioners issues statement about budget
The Union County Board of Commissioners on Monday, Feb. 26, released the following statement on the passing of an annual budget for the Fiscal Year 2018:
With this balanced budget the members of the Board believe the County is put on the best path towards short term success, while laying the groundwork for an upcoming extensive review of the government and development of a long term plan.
The County has recently enjoyed an historic run of success in improving its overall financial situation, including the retirement of its multimillion debt and the establishment of the county’s first reserve funds which now total over $1.1 million.
These achievements have been the result of careful planning and difficult decisions. To ensure the County’s sound financial future, these procedures must continue to be employed.
Entering the budget planning cycle for 2018, the County anticipated a potential budget deficit. This means that should the commissioners have passed a budget without any substantial changes from the previous year’s budget, expenses would have outpaced expected revenues by over $423,000.
While roughly one-quarter of this deficit can be attributed to reductions in revenues from the State of Illinois in 2018, others regularly occur year after year.
These natural increases in the cost of doing business include rising insurance premiums, contractual obligations, and cost inflation, amongst others.
These ongoing increases combine with decades-long economic stagnation to create a challenging situation and demand critical action from our county’s leaders.
The Commissioners decided using the County’s reserve fund to overcome this yearly budget deficit would be an improper use of these funds.
Reserve funds have been established for emergency situations and to assist the County with cash flow during the beginning of the year before taxes are disbursed.
During fiscal year 2017, the County’s general fund dropped to a negative balance of more than $660,000. Without the proper amount of reserves the County could return to a situation where they are unable to make payroll or pay bills on-time.
This balanced budget provides short term stabilization while also representing the first steps towards a long term restructuring that will help to ensure that Union County enjoys a thriving future.
This budget features only a minimal number of capital improvement purchases and no transfers to general reserve funds for the first time since 2014. While this does not meet the goals of the Commissioners, these changes appear to be necessary for the current budget cycle.
Additionally, the 2018 budget includes the elimination of positions. These decisions, while difficult to make, were based on the observations and discussions of commissioners and other government officials.
These actions are reactive and represent short term solutions. Therefore, to better understand all of the needs of the Union County Government and the people it serves, the Commissioners intend to embark on a comprehensive review of the County’s operations. This review shall begin as soon as reasonably possible and will help craft a vision for the county’s preferable future.
This series of studies will endeavor to identify areas of strength and weakness and of effectiveness and inefficiency.
It will also confirm or correct the difficult decisions made in this budget, while helping to determine future direction.
With the delivery of results from these studies, decisions and budgets will be reconsidered and amended as needed, culminating in the development of the annual budget for the fiscal year 2019.
The statement was signed by all five members of the Union County Board of Commissioners:
Bobby Toler, chairman. Max Miller, vice chairman. Alex Foeller. Dale Foster. Danny Hartline.