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updated: 7/15/2014 9:13 PM

Kane County animal control poised to pay off $1.5 million debt

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The latest financial projections show Kane County's animal control agency is in line to pay off its $1.5 million debt to taxpayers by 2017.

If accomplished, the department would have more of a financial cushion to ensure its mission to be entirely self-funded and place a new administrator on more stable ground.

The agency has 14 employees, but it has been without a full-time administrator since early May. That's when the former interim director, Robert Sauceda, resigned in the middle of an investigation by the Kane County state's attorney's office. The other employee involved in the investigation remains employed.

The administrator position was tasked with keeping the agency in the black. That buck now stops with Barb Jeffers, executive director of the county's public health department. She presented a 2015 budget for animal control that shows the agency is on track to make good on its debts.

The county used a mix of tax dollars to fund the $1.5 million construction of the 8,200-square-foot animal shelter in 2007. The agency is obligated to pay back that money but paid less than half the annual debt in 2012 and had similar fears in 2013. Jeffers said those days are over.

"We are fully funded, and we are not going to have any delinquency in payments," she said. "We are moving toward financial independence. My goal is never to have that lapse again."

The $153,273 annual debt payment is more than 16 percent of the agency's annual budget. County board Chairman Chris Lauzen said it will be a welcome day when that payment is no longer needed.

"My perception of a mortgage is that it just goes on forever," Lauzen said. "To say we're three years from paying it off, that's terrific."

The full county board must still approve the 2015 budget plan for animal control before it is locked in place.

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