Kane County sheriff cutting costs through early retirements
Anticipating a coronavirus-induced budget shortfall next year, Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain announced a plan Tuesday that will thin out both his budget and the number of deputies in the department.
Hain offered three versions of an early retirement incentive program targeting middle and upper management. The most popular version allows deputies to retire on Dec. 1, begin collecting their pensions and get paid an additional $15,000 from the county for the next two years.
A second version pays the retiree $15,000 for one year and provides one year of health insurance premiums. The third version offers two years of health insurance premiums paid by the county.
Hain said 14 members of his staff opted to take early retirement. He estimates it will save the county $1.8 million next year and $1.9 million in fiscal year 2022.
"We are forecasting that we may have some tough financial times in 2021 and 2022, so we wanted to get out ahead of this," Hain said. "The one thing we can't do as public safety leaders is lose that front-line staff."
Some of the savings come from an additional plan to "slow hire" replacements over the next two years. Hain said the emergence of another unexpected crisis could affect the anticipated savings if he has to hire replacements faster than he'd like to.
County leaders also will cushion the budget blow imparted by the COVID-19 pandemic through a portion of the approximately $93 million in federal CARES Act money the county is receiving for costs related to the health emergency.
Some of those millions will cover payroll for employees involved in the response. But, so far, the federal government has not allocated funds to local governments to cover lost revenues. In particular, shrinking sales tax and income tax revenue from closed shops and double-digit unemployment will hit the county's coffers to a degree still being calculated.
County board member Bill Lenert, who oversees a committee that follows the health insurance costs of county employees, said Hain should be commended for being proactive.
"They've gone above and beyond in saving this money for the county," Lenert said. "Over the next few years, it is going to greatly help us balance our budget."