No pay raises in Walsh’s Will Co. budget plan
By Cindy Wojdyla Cain email@example.com September 20, 2012 2:28PM
Will County Executive Larry Walsh
Updated: October 22, 2012 6:20AM
JOLIET — Will County Executive Larry Walsh presented a balanced 2013 budget on Thursday that includes no pay raises, no new positions, little money for overtime and a slightly lower property tax levy.
“I can guarantee you, people are going to be upset,” Paul Rafac, the county’s finance director, said after Walsh presented his spending document during his State of the County address at the county board meeting.
“We always make people unhappy when we put forward a balanced budget,” Rafac added. “Most people get less than what they requested.”
The “people” Rafac is referring to are department heads, countywide elected officials and union leaders who typically lobby for more funding before the budget is finalized.
Walsh’s proposed $175.7 million corporate budget is up about 3 percent from the 2012 $170.4 million total mostly because of increases in health insurance and pension payments, Walsh said. Because of a $5.2 million increase in revenue from sales taxes, landfill fees and state income tax payments, the county’s property tax levy will fall slightly.
Changes in individual property assessments will affect the county portion of tax bills more than the levy, Rafac said.
Walsh’s proposed budget will now go to the county board’s finance committee for review. Committee Chairman Ed Kusta, R-Bolingbrook, said there would be extra meetings scheduled to hash out the details with the county board voting on a final budget at the Nov. 15 meeting.
The county currently is negotiating new contracts with its unions, which also could change the final budget figures down the road. Union contracts expire on Nov. 30.
State of county speech
During his state of the county speech, Walsh touched on everything from the county’s desire to control the south suburban airport near Peotone to the dangers of gum disease.
He also detailed how the county’s fleet of mobile dental, workforce and emergency preparedness vans are helping county residents get their teeth and gums fixed, apply for jobs and prepare for disasters, respectively.
And he listed the county’s many awards, the latest being from the Illinois Policy Institute, which ranked Will County fifth in the state among all government bodies for transparency.
Also Thursday, the county board voted to:
Give Walsh’s staff permission to pay $850,000 for the former Social Security building at the southeast corner of Scott and Cass streets. Land use offices could be moved from rental space into the new building to cut $200,000 a year from the county’s $1 million annual lease budget, said Nick Palmer, Walsh’s chief of staff.
Offer county employees another voluntary furlough program. Last year, the county saved $127,000 with the program.
Transfer jurisdiction of portions of Black Road to the village of Shorewood and city of Joliet. The two communities installed a sewer line down the road and the county does not want to have to maintain it, said County Engineer Bruce Gould.