April 23, 2009

Winter, spring straining county’s financial situation

By Stu Merry, BHG News Service

It’s the winter that keeps on giving and giving, or in McLean County’s case, it’s become a case of taking and taking and taking as the county’s budget and reserves grow smaller and smaller and smaller. Hearing the bad news, county commissioners gasped, putting their heads in their hands, wiping their brows. But after hearing the cold, hard facts gave their stamp of approval to a laundry list of recommendations from States Attorney Ladd Erickson and Auditor Les Korgel. The list included a number of items the county should implement to remain financially stable in light of burdening snow removal costs and impending road repair expenses. Included in the list was an immediate freeze on all capital expenditures authorized in department budgets for 2009; study alternatives for funding the county health insurance plan … with a potential 25 percent premium increase effective July 1; freeze all overtime pay for the highway department except for emergencies. Also on the list was directing the county highway department to suspend all township assistance except for emergencies and suspend all county road improvement projects. "We don’t have any money right now to keep running overtime … people might have to deal with ruts in their roads for a while," Korgel said. "We might just have to close some roads out there," he added. And finally – to determine whether emergency tax levies need to be instituted.

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