Around the same time last year, DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin drafted a budget that cut spending to deal with the pandemic and fears of lost income.
Among other belt-tightening measures, the plan did not include any cost-of-living wage increases for county employees and deferred vehicle purchases while avoiding time off and other “draconian” measures, Cronin told the time.
What a difference a year makes.
The county expects to end fiscal 2021 with sales tax revenue up $ 18.2 million, or nearly 20%, from budget. A booming suburban real estate market has boosted income from registration fees and transfer stamps collected from real estate transactions. The county estimates that this revenue will reach $ 2.6 million ahead of expectations before the end of the current fiscal year on November 30.
“We will be able to use the resulting funds to position ourselves for the future,” said Cronin.
On a more optimistic note than the last budget cycle, Cronin is proposing a $ 465.5 million spending plan that anticipates further gains in sales tax revenue and maintains the line on property taxes over the next fiscal year.
The balanced budget proposal also allocates federal coronavirus relief funds for affordable housing projects and the placement of social work case managers in the county eviction court.
On the revenue side, general fund sales tax dollars are expected to climb to $ 107.4 million, an increase of $ 15.4 million or 16.7% from the current fiscal year.
The proposed budget provides for a property tax of $ 69.5 million, a slight increase to account for new construction. The county’s property tax rate would remain stable.
The owner of a $ 250,000 home currently pays about $ 132 in property taxes to the county.
Cronin’s plan bridges a $ 10.4 million gap between anticipated revenue and the funding sought by department heads and county officials. These ministerial requests totaled $ 212.8 million.
“We have worked closely with elected officials and department heads to identify priorities and potential areas of economy to close this gap,” Cronin said in a budget speech to county board members .
DuPage Sheriff James Mendrick has requested a budget of $ 54.1 million for the department. Cronin’s plan gives the sheriff’s office $ 50.6 million and increases the department’s total staffing by two positions to 502.
The proposed spending plan also sets aside funds for staff in diversion programs and a specialized court that allows first-time drug offenders to receive treatment.
“Participation in these programs has increased dramatically, thanks to the good work of prosecutors, public defenders, probation, our justice system and court staff,” said Cronin. “We are using all the tools at our disposal to reduce crime, reduce recidivism and make our communities as safe as possible while providing eligible people with a path to productive and positive lives.”
Cronin wants to double funding for a county task force formed in response to the opioid crisis. The Heroin / Opioid Prevention and Education Working Group, or HOPE, is a joint county council and county health department effort and provides grants to social service agencies.
“We know that an increasing number of our residents are affected by opioids, including pills, heroin and fentanyl,” said Cronin. “Moving our budget line from $ 100,000 to $ 200,000 this year allows the task force to fund more local community programs that will make a difference.”
Liz Chaplin, chair of the board’s finance committee and Democratic member, said she was “pleasantly surprised” by the president’s budget plan.
“I’m glad the president worked with Democrats and passed the addition of a vehicle replacement fund,” Chaplin said in a statement. “The vehicle replacement fund will ensure that adequate funds will be available for all future vehicle purchases.”
The proposed budget also includes adequate funding for a Sheriff’s Department body camera program and additional staffing for the state attorney and public defender budgets to comply with the SAFE-T bill, a bill. on criminal justice reform enacted earlier this year, Chaplin said.
“As the county continues its fight against COVID-19, I have been delighted to see that our reserve levels will remain the same,” she said.
County board members have until November 30 to approve a budget for fiscal year 2022 which begins December 1.