DuPage County approves $433.8 million budget with some cuts, no tax hike

Updated 11/27/2018 3:54 PM

DuPage County Board members on Tuesday approved a $433.8 million budget for fiscal 2019 that reduces spending and continues to hold the line on property taxes.

The budget, which takes effect Saturday, is roughly $5.8 million less than DuPage's current spending plan. It also includes a reduction in full-time head count.

"There was more pain and sacrifice in this budget than any budget I have proposed here to date," county board Chairman Dan Cronin said.

Because of fluctuating sales tax revenues and increasing personnel costs, the budget includes a 10 percent cut to the county's contribution for the DuPage Care Center. The contribution to the nursing facility in Wheaton will be reduced to $2.7 million.

There's also a 10 percent reduction in subsidies for the Stormwater Management Department and the Human Services Grant Fund.

The Human Services Grant Fund was created by the county to partner with agencies directly serving the needs of DuPage residents. Earlier this year, $1 million in grant money was awarded to help pay for 60 projects from 58 nonprofit groups. Under the 2019 budget, the total amount of grant money next year would be reduced to $900,000.

Meanwhile, the Stormwater Management Department will see its subsidy from the county reduced by $285,000 to roughly $2.56 million under the proposed budget.

The subsidy is part of the nearly $13 million the department receives each year. Most of the money come from a countywide property tax.

"This is the first time that we've actually cut back on stormwater since I've been here," said Cronin, who has been chairman since 2010. "I think we've done everything we can on the spending side of the equation."

Cronin said the spending plan is balanced and will allow the county government to fulfill its mission.

"I'm confident we are serving the people to the level of service that they expect," Cronin said. "I don't think anything is diminished in the least. But this was a difficult process."

For example, all countywide offices and departments were asked to make cost reductions. That saved the county enough money to provide a 2 percent cost-of-living increase for employees.

As part of the budget, DuPage's full-time head count will be reduced by 11 positions to 2,167. The head count was 2,270 eight years ago.

Despite cuts in other areas, the county will continue its fight against heroin. The budget set aside $100,000 to pay for initiatives to raise awareness about the drug.

The spending plan also includes $38 million for capital projects addressing stormwater, drainage and road construction.

On the revenue side, DuPage's property tax levy will remain flat at $66.9 million in 2019. It will be the 11th consecutive year the county has a budget with no property tax increase, officials said.

Board member Robert Larsen said the spending plan is the end result of hard work by the county staff in a difficult budgetary environment.

"I hope the taxpayers understand how hard this is," said Larsen, who is chairman of the county board's finance committee. "This isn't a budget that was bloated 15 years ago and we're just chipping away at it.

"We've always had a tight budget," he said. "And yet we keep notching the belt tighter and tighter each year."

County government accounts for less than 3 percent of the property tax bill in DuPage. School districts constitute about 73 percent of the tax bill, and municipalities account for roughly 10 percent.

To view the budget document, visit dupageco.org/finance.

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