DuPage looks to hiring restrictions to deal with reduced state funding

Chairman says DuPage must be proactive as it expects to lose $1 million this fiscal year

Updated 8/1/2017 6:44 PM

DuPage County officials say they have been forced to restrict hiring and pursue other cost-saving measures after learning the county will get less funding from the state.

When state lawmakers after over two years approved a budget last month, it included a 10 percent reduction in the amount of state income tax revenue that municipalities and counties receive. In addition, the state has imposed a 2 percent administrative fee to collect special taxes for local governments.

For DuPage, that means the state will take 2 percent of its RTA sales tax revenue.

Combined with the potential loss of other revenue from the state, DuPage is expected to lose about $1 million before the county's current fiscal year ends Dec. 1. Roughly $1.7 million in revenue could be lost for DuPage's 2018 budget.

"That is a significant hit to our general fund, impacting spending for the remainder of this year and for fiscal year 2018," DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin said. "It's clear we must be proactive in our efforts to balance next year's budget with fewer dollars."

Cronin directed county Administrator Tom Cuculich to develop a plan to implement hiring restrictions.

The restrictions will affect county board departments funded either wholly or partly by the general fund, including transportation, stormwater, information technology and community services.

Under the plan, a job vacancy in an affected department won't be filled unless officials in the county board office sign off on it.

"Any vacancy that is going to be using general revenue funds needs to have an extra level of scrutiny," Cuculich said. "My level of scrutiny is pretty basic as far as good business practices. What does a position do? How are you currently handling the workload from that vacancy? And is that sustainable over the long-term?"

The hope is that DuPage will save money by slowing down hiring.

The hiring restrictions don't apply to departments overseen by a countywide elected official, including the sheriff and state's attorney. However, Cronin has asked those officials to implement the hiring restrictions.

Meanwhile, Cuculich said, departments are taking steps to reduce spending. "We are squeezing the dollars right now as far as expenses go," he said.

If that isn't enough, DuPage has a $1 million contingency fund that it could use this fiscal year.

As for the county's 2018 fiscal year, Cronin says he's planning to deliver a balanced-budget proposal to the county board Sept. 26.

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