JOLIET, Ill. — Will County Board members received the proposed 2011 Fiscal Year budget this week from the County Executive’s Office. The $173 million spending plan includes a hiring freeze, along with voluntary severances and furloughs to achieve additional savings.
The budget also relies on the use of $3.8 million in cash reserves, something Chairman Jim Moustis said is cause for further discussions.
“This would be the second year in a row that we had to use these funds,” Moustis said. “We all must understand that by doing so we’re kicking the can down the road. This is the time we need to get creative and tough. We may have to say ‘No’ to some of these proposed expenses.”
Finance Committee Chairman Ed Kusta (R-Bolingbrook) also encouraged fellow board members to take a hard look at where additional cuts might be made.
“This is taxpayer money. This is not Monopoly money,” Kusta said. “The process of putting together a final budget is never easy, but the taxpayers need us to do our jobs and deliver the leanest, most-efficient budget possible.”
Board members will examine the numbers over the next several weeks, with approval of the final budget expected at the Nov. 18 meeting. The new budget takes effect Dec. 1.
“This is a tough budget year, much like last year,” Minority Leader Walter Adamic (D-Joliet) said. “We need all board members’ ideas in order to establish an appropriate budget and get through these tough times. I look forward to working collectively and cooperatively with everyone over the next two months to make that happen.”
The county managed to maintain service levels during the current fiscal year without resorting to mid-year budget cuts, despite the sagging economy and dismal housing market.
“I think it’s important to point out that while the state of Illinois is billions of dollars in debt and Chicago and Cook County continue to struggle, Will County is operating from a position of strength,” Moustis said. “We have prepared for difficult times before and we will do so again.”