DuPage budget holds line on property taxes
Saying DuPage is committed to living within its means, county board Chairman Dan Cronin is proposing a fiscal 2017 budget that again cuts spending and holds the line on property taxes.
Cronin unveiled the proposed $433.8 million spending plan Tuesday. It calls for DuPage's property tax levy to remain flat at $66.9 million -- roughly the same it has been since 2008.
"For the second year in a row, we are called upon to create a spending plan without a fully funded budget from Springfield," Cronin said during a 20-minute speech to county board members.
Despite "partisan bickering and inaction" in Springfield, Cronin said, DuPage will face its challenges head-on.
"Each day we provide value and excel on behalf of the taxpayers," he said.
County government accounts for less than 3 percent of the property tax bill in DuPage, according to the county clerk's office. School districts constitute about 73 percent of the tax bill, and municipalities account for roughly 9.9 percent.
The owner of a $300,000 home pays about $197 a year in property taxes to the county.
One reason DuPage can keep the property tax levy flat is its sales tax revenue is projected to grow by 1.25 percent to $97.6 million.
Cronin said the budget proposal also takes into account potential reductions in state funding and reduces the county's full-time budgeted head count by four positions to 2,210 for fiscal 2017.
The head count was 2,270 when Cronin took office six years ago.
When it comes to expenses, Cronin's proposed budget calls for the county to spend roughly $10.6 million less than its current budget while maintaining existing services.
"We've maintained a high expectation of being efficient and lean," Cronin said. "It's not easy. I'm proud that we have been able to produce a document with a balanced budget in a very, very difficult, challenging and uncertain environment."
An estimated $53.5 million will be set aside for capital improvements, including stormwater, drainage and road construction projects.
DuPage also will continue its fight against heroin. The proposed budget allocates $100,000 to pay for initiatives, including doubling the number of "RxBox" safe medication disposal kiosks countywide.
The proposed budget also sets aside $50,000 for a new "Clean and Lien" program, which will remove, repair, or demolish abandoned buildings on foreclosed properties. The goal is to make it possible for the land to be sold or developed.
"We will eliminate these community eyesores, clean up the local environment and immediately improve neighborhoods, benefiting local property owners," Cronin said.
DuPage County Board members have until Nov. 30 to approve a budget for the 2017 fiscal year, which begins Dec. 1. In the meantime, board committees will review the proposed spending plan and suggest changes.