County finance officials predict large deficits over next five years – Champaign/Urbana News-Gazette

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URBANA — Champaign County finance officials project expenses to exceed revenues in coming years.

The resulting financial challenges will likely play a role as the county considers possibilities at its two jails and other projects.

“Unless new revenue sources are secured, it is essential the county restrict expenditure growth to the maximum extent possible within these funds in order to ensure it has adequate financial resources for its financial system and facility needs,” Deputy Director of Finance Tami Ogden said while presenting a five-year financial forecast at Thursday’s county board meeting.

Ogden’s report detailed financial pressures the county is under:

— The state’s cut to county income-tax revenues has cost Champaign County $422,000 year-to-date, with Gov. J.B. Pritzker proposing the continuation of this cut.

— Less revenue is being distributed from the Personal Property Replacement Tax on corporations and partnerships due to the state’s diversion of those funds.

— The state’s 2 percent collection fee on the county’s public-safety tax (since lowered to 1.5 percent) has so far diverted $152,000 in county funds that could have been used for public safety.

— The state has been reducing its reimbursement for a part of juvenile-detention and court-security personnel costs since 2015.

— A 10-year capital facilities plan, which does not include the sheriff’s office and downtown jail, calls for addressing deferred maintenance “to keep its buildings from declining.” That plan calls for spending $1 million on infrastructure in 2020.

— The county is considering developing a strategic technology plan to update or improve software for everything from tax-cycle work to jail management, law enforcement and animal control.

— The county anticipates its health insurance costs will continue to escalate in future years.

— A ruling in the Carle property-tax exemption case could leave the county liable for as much as $2.65 million, not including possible interest.

Ogden’s report forecasts expenses to outpace revenues in the general fund to the tune of $400,544 in 2020, $629,436 in 2021, $955,783 in 2022 and $999,970 in 2023.

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