Morgan County Commissioners Focus on Appropriations For Final August Meeting

By Benjamin Cox on September 3, 2019 at 1:17pm

The Morgan County Commissioners focused on appropriations and fiscal concerns this morning for their final meeting of the month of August. Chairman Brad Zeller says he was pretty pleased with the FY 2020 budget that passed unanimously this morning without comment. “Every year when we go through this process, we are thankful that we have the elected officials that we do and the department heads. They never inflate any of their line items and keep their services and materials constant. We really have a good handle on the expenditure line-item side. This year the major expenses that went up were, of course, labor. It represents 70% of our budget. There was a 2.5% cost of living increase given to all employees through our union and non-union contracts that were negotiated in.”

Zeller says that a few revenues in the county did rise a bit, but according to the budget, remained mostly stagnant county-wide. “Property tax went up just a little bit because of the COLA, which was 1.9% when we do our levy in December. Then, the replacement tax, which is a rather large account that the Treasurer has, is receiving a higher interest rate so we were able to add some interest income to a line item, which was very nice. Under other income, we made a one-time transfer from the tax sale indemnity fund, which the Treasurer collects fees from property tax fees when properties are delinquent, it goes into that account. That account has been building for several years and we are not required to keep a large balance in that account so we were able to transfer $120,000 of that account into the General Fund, which helped offset some costs.”

According to the budget report, FY 2020 has a $90,000 budget deficit on a $10 million dollar budget for the county. Commissioner Bill Meier says that having a slight deficit at the beginning of the year is expected and also is in place to make sure the county doesn’t over-estimate both its revenues and expenses for the upcoming year. The budget will be adopted on August 31st and be available for public viewing on the county website on September 1st.

Treasurer Jenny Geinieart reminded the commissioners that the 2nd installment of property taxes will be due on September 3rd and that citizens can use the new ATM in the hallway on the second floor if they don’t wish to pay by credit card. Geinieart also said that the property that was delinquent in taxes that was on the agenda reverted back to the original owner as they paid their overdue taxes as well as fees at the final hour just before the auction was set to start.

Emily Bishop, an assistant in the commissioner’s office, said the assistance grants would be moving away from a flat grant for those needing help to a Needs Allowance grant that breaks down assistance into an itemized budget rather than just a simple grant. The grant moves from $225 to $304 this year in accordance to requirements set by the State of Illinois.

The commissioners also approved the appointment of Terry Denison to the Western Illinois Economic Development Authority for a term ending in January 2024 as well as approved a one-day liquor license to the Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce for their annual steak fry on September 12th. The next commissioners meeting will be held on September 9th at 9AM.