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updated: 9/10/2012 7:44 PM

Kane officials request budget supplements

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Kane County department heads and elected officials were asked to hold spending to 2012 levels for the 2013 budget and were told their budgets should cover an anticipated 4.5 percent increase in the cost of health and dental insurance.

But several department heads included all or part of the increase in supplementary requests -- a move frowned upon by the county board's finance committee on Monday. Committee member Cathy Hurlbut asked if all department heads and elected officials had "understood the memo."

Those putting the increase in the supplementary requests include the auditor and the recorder of deeds. The auditor's office has two employees, one of whom is choosing family coverage next year.

"Some departments are better equipped to absorb the increase than others," committee Chairman Jim Mitchell said.

Some departments attached supplementary requests for expenditures that would seem necessary to fulfill their duties.

"We will stop serving subpoenas or completing investigations. Will bring judicial system to a halt" was listed as a consequence if the public defender's office doesn't get an additional $5,500 for employees' mileage reimbursement. Adult Court Services also is asking for more mileage money, saying with the high cost of gas, employees now are requesting more mileage reimbursement where previously they'd have covered the cost of short trips themselves.

The information technology department is proposing raising wages 2 percent to stem employee turnover, which has been estimated at 10 percent. The judiciary is asking for more money for supplies, as there are more judges and courtrooms. The state's attorney's office is being charged more for appellate court services because the county's population has grown.

Sheriff's Lt. Ron Grommes said including the health and dental premium increase in the sheriff's budget would mean having to cut a deputy, something committee member Mark Davoust said he did not want to do.

Kane County Public Defender Thomas McCulloch asked for an additional $285,000 and State's Attorney Joe McMahon for an extra $818,070 to raise the attorney pay, but McMahon proposed splitting his request for extra money between the 2013 and 2014 budgets. Both previously have said Kane County's pay is the lowest in the Chicago area, leading to high turnover of experienced staff. Keeping experienced attorneys, they say, would speed up case resolution.

The committee decided to hold off voting on the supplemental requests. Instead, committee chairmen are to present prioritized requests during a finance committee meeting at 8:30 a.m. Sept. 19.

The committee also removed lobbyist expenses from the transportation and supervisor of assessments budgets, as the county board is examining the county's use of lobbyists. Hurlbut, chairman of the transportation committee, voted against taking the $30,000 out of the transportation budget, saying the county risks losing state and federal grants if it doesn't have a person specifically lobbying for that money.

The recommended budget is due to the county board chairman Sept. 27.

The county's fiscal year starts Dec. 1.

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