County board approves deficit budget : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
|County board approves deficit budget|
|Board members clash over $2,000 cost for employee wage hikes|
|by Matt Schury|
The Kendall County Board approved a deficit 2013 fiscal year budget Tuesday afternoon after a barn-burner five hour meeting that included a two hour closed session followed by about two hours of discussion in open session.
The budget passed on a 6-3 split vote after multiple motions and amendments that even County Board Chairman John Purcell admitted he couldn't keep straight at times.
"Honestly, I don't even know what we're voting on now," Purcell said with a laugh at one point during discussion.
Voting in favor of passing the budget were board members Purcell, John Shaw, Nancy Martin, Anne Vickery, Suzanne Petrella and Jessie Hafenrichter. Casting the three no votes were Jeff Wehrli, Bob Davidson and Dan Koukol.
Board member Elizabeth Flowers left the meeting before a final vote was taken on the budget.
The budget is essentially the same one the board voted on two weeks earlier that failed in a 5-5-split vote. The only difference in the budget is $2,000 less in funds for raises.
At the meeting on Nov. 7, Petrella, Martin, Vickery, Flowers and Hafenrichter voted in favor of the budget while Davidson, Wehrli, Shaw, Koukol and Purcell voted against it.
The sticking point for the board involved how much of a salary increase should be given to four county employees that totaled $12,000 to $14,000 extra in the budget.
Under the budget, Anna Payton, animal control warden, and Andy Nicoletti, supervisor of assessments, are slated to each get a raise of $4,000 next year.
Additionally, Angela Zubko, the county's senior planner, and Jim Smiley, facilities management director, are each expected to receive a $2,000 annual pay increase.
In addition to those four employees, all non-union represented county employees will receive a $975 raise next year, including hourly and salaried employees, according to the budget.
The $2,000 reduced the Facilities Management Department's fund and the Planning Building and Zoning Department's fund by $1,000 each. The cuts will mean Smiley and Zubko will each receive a $2,000 raise next year instead of a previously proposed $3,000 raise.
During discussion, motions were made by board members that adjusted the raises for the four employees. There was also a proposal that failed to just raise Payton, Zubko and Nicoletti's pay and not include an increase to Smiley's salary.
At one point during arguments, Martin referred to Shaw as "senile" for not agreeing with her. Shaw later said he would approve a motion if Martin apologized.
Martin said she was sorry if she offended Shaw. Shaw voted in favor of the amended motion but it failed.
Issues for voting no
After the meeting Koukol said he voted against the budget because he has other issues beyond the raises.
"I think it was just jammed together really fast, a lot of it was the raises, too," Koukol said. "There are (union) negotiations going on right now and it's just going to throw a wrench into the negotiations."
Koukol added that he had concerns the raises may affect the collective bargaining the county does with the unions that represent county employees.
"How can we negotiate with bargaining units when they know what we gave everybody else," Koukol said. "They're going to be asking for the world if we give the world to everybody else."
He added that there are a lot of good employees and more than four that deserve a raise.
Shaw had originally opposed the raises and voted down the budget that included them. He then switched his vote and the budget passed.
"I switched my vote because eventually we're going to have to pass a budget or there will be no money to operate the county," Shaw said.
During discussion on one of the many motions, Vickery mentioned that she was not pleased with the discussion over raises.
"I think it's a sad day when you guys screw with the salaries of people like this," Vickery said
She pointed out after the meeting that the raises amounted to "peanuts" in compared to other department raises.
"When you look at some of the other raises-like I said with the Health Department-this is peanuts, absolute peanuts," Vickery said.
The County Board does not set the budget for the Health Department; the Kendall County Board of Health approves their budget.
The revised line items for those departments total:
•Facilities Management: $1, 970,860,
•Animal Control: $179,650,
•Planning Building and Zoning: $239,972.
Petrella questioned the amount over which the county was arguing.
"It seems to be the dollar figure that we are rassling over is just about $2,000, and how does this affect the budget?" Petrella said.
The tentative budget posted on the county's website shows $52.8 million in revenues and $58.3 million in expenditures. The general fund, which the County Board directly controls, shows $25.2 million in revenues and transfers in and $26.3 million in expenses and transfers out, leaving a $1.1 million deficit. It shows a general fund reserve balance of $13.41 million.
This marks the third straight year the board has dipped into their reserve fund to plug the deficit gap in the general fund.
The budget is available on the county's website at co.kendall.il.us. Residents can get also review a physical copy of the budget by going to the County Administration office at the County Office Building at 111 W. Fox Street, Yorkville.