County Board Meets Tuesday to Consider Levy


Published on November 28 2016 7:55 pm
Last Updated on November 28 2016 7:57 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

Members of the Effingham County Board Monday gathered to consider ways to address a projected $261,000 deficit in the budget scheduled to take effect December 1.

The deficit has been whittled from better than $400,000, but there is work yet to be done.

One potential remedy appears to be off the table; Tax and Finance Committee Chairman Rob Arnold said unless he hears differently from other board members, a potential 1/4 cent increase in the county public safety tax will not be considered further.

The rationale voiced Monday was that if voters approved the increase in the April election, it would be almost another year before the revenue would start showing up.

In the meantime, the County will have come close to paying off the building bonds used to finance the Effingham County Government Center. Paying those bonds off would free up another $80,000 per month that could be used for other public safety needs, perhaps freeing up some general revenue funds for other uses. Employing that strategy is favored by County Board Chairman Jim Niemann, who said, "I think we'll make it." 

The Board informally agreed Monday against $34,000 for an additional County Treasurer's office employee as a savings, and discussed raising the levy by 4.99%, which would generate about $190,000. That still leaves some deficit, which could be covered by dipping into reserve funds.

The Board has a special meeting Tuesday at 2pm when some of the discussed moves could be finalized.

There was also discussion of a proposed $75,000 increase in the County Health Department budget. Arnold suggested a $25,000 increase in each of the next three years might be a more palatable option.

Several citizens attended Monday's meeting. Some objected to any increase in taxes, while others just wanted information as to why funds are spent as they are. One person who attended said the public safety tax and other sales taxes are more acceptable because everyone pays those; it's not just property taxes carrying the load. Some asked about other projects that have been undertaken in the community like the Workman Sports Complex and the TREC Trail, but Board members explained that those aren't County projects.