McLean County Board members are expected to vote on the 2013 budget in November. (WJBC file photo)
By Eric Stock
McLean County officials are reviewing the county's taxes and fees to determine whether it could pool more funding for the county Children's Advocacy Center.
Justice committee chairman Bette Rackauskas, R-Bloomington, urged county board members at ithe board's regular monthly meeting on Tuesday to balance controlled spending with getting the child care agency the money it needs.
"I really need everyone to go through their budgets, really help us find out how we can attain both without having to raise taxes," Rackauskas said.
CAC Director Judy Brucker didn't specifically request a funding increase in her prepared comments for the board, but said the agency needs more cases workers to help all those in foster care.
"We were able to provide CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocate) services to only 147 of those (foster) children, approximately one quarter (of foster children) because of funding constraints," Brucker said.
The advocacy center is funded in part though property taxes and court fees. It receives .00398 per $100 of assessed valuation based on a 1994 referendum, In 2012, the tax generated $136,000 for CAC. The county has the authority to increase the tax rate to .004, which would amount to an increase of less than $1,000.
The county could also increase the $15 court fees for all convictions to $30. The county is estimating the $15 fee would generate about $60,000 in 2013. The amount collected dropped sharply in 2011 and part of 2012 because of court collection errors, but Brucker said the agency has been able to overcome that in fundraising through the non-profit Child Protection Network, which also covers a significant portion of its budget.
The county pays for its eight full-time employees, while grants help cover some of the center's operations.
The county's proposed $79 million budget is in the committee process. Final adoption is expected on Nov. 20.
Eric Stock can be reached at email@example.com.