Morgan County Has Balanced Budget Despite Ongoing COVID Response

By Benjamin Cox on September 1, 2020 at 11:40am

The Morgan County budget for Fiscal Year 2020-2021 is balanced. The Morgan County Commissioners approved the upcoming year’s budget Monday morning. The current year’s budget shows no over or under in the upcoming year’s expenditures or revenues. Morgan County Commissioner Chairman Brad Zeller said during the meeting there are very few surprises despite the county’s ongoing COVID-19 response: “Our revenue from property tax is up a little bit. We had underestimated that last year, so that is kind of a correction. We took sales tax [revenue] down a little bit by $100,000. We lowered income tax [revenue] approximately $50,000. As you go on down [the budget], our federal grants are up substantially because we have the possibility of the CURES money, which is the COVID-19 funding for any incurred costs that the county has – overtime, things of that nature – that will be able to be reimbursed by the State of Illinois grant through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. In our [budget], we show the amount of $326,000 is of the COVID grant. That shows as revenue but we offset that with some capital expenses and things of that nature that we have done [in COVID-19 response].”

Zeller says that much of the federal money has been used to install plexiglass in the county treasurer’s and clerk’s office, as well as instituting new procedures and safety measures at the county jail. The County Clerk’s office has also received a small portion of funding for extra safety measures during the upcoming November General Election and the April Consolidated Election. Zeller says that most of the expenditures of the federal money has come through the health department: “Their budget has exploded due to COVID. Mr. [Dale] Bainter has put several grants into his budget – one of which I believe they have already received so they can go ahead an open up the testing and contact tracing center that will be very advantageous to Morgan County and this community as a whole. I think it’s vital that we have those services available, and Mr. Bainter is in the process of doing that. I know that they are currently open but they might not be at full capacity yet, but they hope to be very soon.”

Zeller says that the Health Department is also budgeting for a new building to expand into within the upcoming year: “The Health Department and their board has been looking at the process of building a [new] building. They currently have a lot already purchased. They have also been looking at several buildings around town – something they could rehab. Just finding the right fit is a priority. They have been very patient with this process, and this might be an opportunity if they were able to secure some federal grants. That would be very advantageous to them in their process.”

In other business this morning, the commissioners approved the appointment of Ryan Flynn to the Morgan County Housing Authority to replace Fran Ringol, who had recently stepped down. They also approved the reappointment of Mary English to the Housing Authority. Matt Coultas, Morgan County Road Engineer brought forth an engineering agreement with Benton & Associates for culvert replacement along Willow Branch and Leach Farm Roads in Road District 6, which was also approved. Coutlas said that part of the money for the project would be through the Rebuild Illinois funding from the state.

The Morgan County Commissioners are next scheduled to meet on September 7th.