Lake County Board adopts $571.8 million budget, keeps tax levy flat

  • Construction work still needs to be done inside Lake County's new courthouse tower, which opened in 2018. The county board is dedicating more than $10 million in next year's budget for that work.

    Construction work still needs to be done inside Lake County's new courthouse tower, which opened in 2018. The county board is dedicating more than $10 million in next year's budget for that work. Daily Herald File Photo, 2018

  • Lake County Board member Paul Frank, a Highland Park Democrat

    Lake County Board member Paul Frank, a Highland Park Democrat

 
 
Updated 11/12/2019 5:30 PM

Nearly $28 million for facility and building improvements is included in Lake County's newly adopted $571.8 million budget.

The spending plan sets aside more than $10 million for construction inside the new courthouse tower in Waukegan, which opened last year.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

It also includes $900,000 for architectural work relating to planned courthouse annex renovations, $900,000 for plans for a consolidated public safety facility in Libertyville, and $750,000 to develop designs for a proposed mental health crisis center, among other efforts.

The Lake County Board adopted the spending plan Tuesday morning. The new fiscal year begins Dec. 1.

Members from both sides of the political aisle spoke favorably about the plan, which doesn't increase the tax levy for county property owners.

The levy -- the overall amount of property taxes a government agency predicts it will collect in a year -- initially was proposed to increase by $600,000, said board member Paul Frank, who leads the financial and administrative committee. But an effort to trim spending led to that increase being eliminated.

"(It's) fiscally responsible, bold and thoughtful," Frank, a Highland Park Democrat, said of the budget.

County board member Dick Barr, a Round Lake Beach Republican, strongly advocated for cutting proposed spending to maintain the levy amount.

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"We're showing the taxpayers that we're taking it incredibly seriously," Barr said.

Projected spending is up more than 8% from the 2019 fiscal year's total of $525.9 million. Officials attributed most of the jump to the planned capital projects.

To fund spending, officials predict they'll collect about $542.4 million in property taxes, fines, fees and other revenue. That's up nearly 3% from the 2019 fiscal year's budgeted total of $527.8 million.

The difference between projected spending and revenue will come from savings.

Board member Mike Rummel, a Lake Forest Republican, challenged county officials to find ways to cut spending further and decrease the levy ahead of the 2021 fiscal year.

Barr suggested taxpayers go to their local government boards, tell them the county froze its tax levy and to urge them to similarly reduce spending.

The budget can be found online at lakecountyil.gov/budget.

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