Tazewell County has kept employee costs in check, increased fees for government services and benefited from a growth in property values over the past several years.
The County Board can’t stop the state from reducing revenue flows to local governments nor can it prevent its buildings from needing repairs, however, and those factors will pour a lot of red ink into the county’s budget next year.
The budget that the board was expected to approve Wednesday night projects a deficit for next year topping $4.87 million.
That’s the difference between expected revenues of about $58.47 million and expenses topping $63.42 million. Both amounts are likely record highs.
Revenues will rise 4.3 percent over the 2016 fiscal year largely because of rising property values that will bring a 5-percent increase in property tax revenue, according to projections in the new budget.
The county also expects to take in about $1.5 million more than two years earlier in charges for government services it provides, an 11.6-percent increase, as the result of fee increases it recently approved.
The projected $13.185 million in property tax and $14.4 million in service charge revenues, however, will be offset by an expected 11 percent decline in “intergovernmental” funds between 2016 and the end of the county’s fiscal year 2018 next December.
All local governments in Illinois will see similar drops in state-supplied revenue as the result of the state’s efforts through its new budget to climb out of its huge deficit.
Tazewell’s projected deficit for next year also is fueled by plans to spend more than $7 million in “capital outlay,” including repairs to its buildings and other infrastructure.
That cost, nearly $1.3 million more than two years ago, could be covered by a bank loan should the county decide to take that course. The board also could dip into its savings reserves to address the deficit.
At the bottom line, however, is the board’s conclusion that the county has entered a period where it’s operating “in a structural deficit, where expenses exceed revenues,” board Chairman David Zimmerman said this week.
The board Wednesday night was to consider asking county voters in a referendum in March to approve a 15-cent property tax rate increase that would generate about $4.3 million more in revenue. It would be the first increase in more than 15 years from the county’s current rate of 49 cents per $100 assessed value for taxing purposes.
The board’s votes on the budget and proposed referendum took place after the Daily Times’ deadline.
Follow Michael Smothers at Twitter.com/msmotherspekin