Kane County corrections workers have been without a union contract since Nov. 30, 2010. But a recent arbitration ruling has county officials scrambling to find nearly $675,000 to fund raises and overtime benefits going back to the 2011 fiscal year.
The county board's finance committee agreed Wednesday to use surplus income from the current budget year to cover the money owed for fiscal years 2011 and 2012. The outside auditor the county hired to act as a temporary finance director said there is enough surplus money in the general fund to cover the cost.
The sheriff's office originally wanted to use federal grant money it received for housing undocumented immigrants in the county jail. But committee members said that grant money was already included in county budgets for those fiscal years. Using such grant money would give the sheriff's office additional dollars it was not owed, in effect double-counting the same money. The committee eliminated the grant dollars from the issue, and decided to only use surplus funds.
But that still leaves the money now owed to corrections officers for 2013 unaccounted for. The county board did not budget any form of wage increases or other additional benefits for corrections officers in the 2013 budget. That means the raises, which have already effectively been awarded through the arbitration, must be paid out of contingency funds.
Such contingency funds may not be in abundance in 2013 as the county board committed to a flat tax levy. The exact dollar figure owed to the corrections staff in 2013 has not yet been calculated. It will be up to the new county board that gets sworn in next week to come up with the cash.