The McLean County Board has approved a $79.2 million budget for 2013. (WJBC file photo)
By Eric Stock
BLOOMINGTON - McLean County has done some pre-holiday trimming in an effort to keep taxpayers happy.
The County Board has unanimously approved a $79.2 million budget for 2013 which has been cut $150,000 since it was proposed in September. The county also moved reserves from the health department's tuberculosis care and treatment fund by about $180,000 and about $20,000 from other sources to lower the tax levy so property owners won't see an increase.
"No residents who live in a home that hasn't appreciated in value will pay more taxes (to McLean County) next year than they did this year," County Board Chairman Matt Sorensen, R-Bloomington, said.
Sorensen added that moving money from reserves isn't sustainable, but he said the money is there for a rainy day. He said this might be the county's toughest financial year yet.
"For the first time, we acutally did cut into fund balances a little bit, which is an unusual move on our part," Sorensen said.
McLean County Board member George Wendt, R-Bloomington, had urged the county to cut spending to avoid any tax increase. While he applauded the county for keeping the rate equal to 2012, he was disappointed to see that a portion of that has come from dipping into reserves rather than cutting more spending.
"I will reluctantly vote for this budget. We've got to really start looking at reducing expenses and not just reducing what we collect in levies for different projects," Wendt said.
The budget eliminates two full-time positions. The county has cut 38 positions since 2009.
The spending plan calls for non-union employees to get a 1.5 percent pay raise.
Eric Stock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.