Saying DuPage County government must live within its means, county board Chairman Dan Cronin is proposing a budget for 2014 that wouldn't increase property tax collections.
Cronin this week unveiled the proposed $434.4 million spending plan, which he referred to as a "maintenance budget." While tens of millions of dollars in capital projects would be funded as part of the plan, the county's full-time head count would remain unchanged at 2,220 positions.
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"The challenge of doing more with less rings true once again this year," Cronin said during a speech to the county board. "I am very proud to say we've built on our past successes and tough decisions. By working together, the budget for (fiscal year) 2014 is lean and productive and reflects the priorities of the community."
Cronin said revenue estimates for next year are positive, with sales tax revenue expected to grow by 4 percent. As a result, officials are planning to keep the property tax levy flat at $66.6 million.
"I am very pleased to say DuPage County taxpayers will not face an increase in taxes (paid to county government)," Cronin said. "I'm also happy to say that the quality of services we provide will continue, and services will not be compromised or reduced by this budget."
County government accounts for just 2 percent of the tax bill in DuPage, according to the county clerk's office. School districts take up most of the tax bill, 73.2 percent. Municipalities constitute about 9.8 percent.
When it comes to employee costs, the county's budget plan doesn't require layoffs and furlough days. It does call for a 2 percent cost-of-living increase for the county's nonunion employees.
Cronin said the county has been able to control costs, in part, by implementing a policy in 2011 that reduced the number of sick days and vacation days accrued by county employees. He said the change is projected to save DuPage nearly $20 million during the next two decades.
"We have already experienced savings from this reform," he said.
An estimated $86.6 million in capital initiatives -- ranging from stormwater and drainage to road projects -- are listed in the proposed budget. The total amount includes $3 million Cronin plans to allocate after getting input from county board members.
Board members have until Nov. 30 to approve a final draft of the budget. In the meantime, various board committees will review the proposed spending plan and suggest changes. The county's fiscal year starts Dec. 1.