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updated: 9/11/2012 8:45 PM

DuPage sheriff could face staff cuts

Proposed county budget would eliminate 8 positions

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  • Dan Cronin

      Dan Cronin

  • John Zaruba

      John Zaruba

 
 

Next year's proposed county budget calls on DuPage County Sheriff John Zaruba to eliminate eight full-time positions and reduce spending by about $1.5 million.

It's unclear whether Zaruba will accept or resist the suggested cuts to his department.

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"His response is he has not read it (the budget plan) yet," sheriff's spokeswoman Dawn Domrose wrote in a terse email.

DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin on Tuesday publicly unveiled a proposed $431.8 million county budget for the 2013 fiscal year. Cronin said he spoke a day earlier to Zaruba about the plan, which includes slashing the sheriff's department's annual spending from roughly $40.7 million to about $39.2 million.

"I shared the information with him, and he received it," Cronin said.

If approved in its current form, the budget plan would reduce the authorized full-time head count at the sheriff's office by eight positions to 530 employees.

"This is a reflection of what the board and I believe is appropriate," Cronin said. "It reflects our priorities. Certainly, if there is some issue or complaint that they want to share with us, we will be receptive."

Cronin said the goal of the budget proposal is to maintain "essential services" without increasing the county's property tax levy. The plan is $8.1 million lower than the current budget, officials said.

"Every public body continues to struggle with rising costs, more debt and higher demand for services," Cronin said during a Tuesday morning speech to the county board. "Thanks to the careful stewardship of this board and the cautious approach we've taken in this fragile and unstable economy, DuPage taxpayers remain protected from any need to raise taxes or cut essential services."

Cronin said revenue estimates for next year are "conservative" and "stable." The county's primary source of revenue -- sales tax receipts -- is expected to grow by 3 percent next year.

When it comes to expenses, Cronin said increased competitive bidding has reduced the contractual budget by nearly $6 million.

"This has allowed for the re-purposing of financial and head count resources in order to meet our goals without increasing the bottom line," he said.

DuPage also is in the second year of a policy that reduced the number of sick days and vacation days accrued by county employees. Cronin said the result has been lower payouts for accumulated sick and vacation days.

"By midterm this year, benefit payouts were $1.6 million lower than the same time last year with no increase expected for 2013," Cronin said. "We expect this trajectory to continue into the future."

Last year, DuPage reduced its health care expenses by asking employees to pay more for their benefits. Cronin said the county must continue to address those rising costs. He said options will be presented to the board before the final budget is approved.

Cronin also reported that the county will receive money from the state to help pay for road and water projects. Details about the funding will be released once they are finalized.

Board members have until Nov. 30 to approve a final draft of the county budget. In the meantime, various board committees will review the spending plan and suggest changes. The county's fiscal year starts Dec. 1.

"Because of the wise choices this board has made in recent years, we are not sitting here struggling with how to deal with large deficits or unpaid obligations," Cronin said. "We have the unique opportunity to spend our time figuring out how to save tax dollars, offer services without raising taxes or compromising quality, and to be the model of local government."

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