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Local News

Illinois budget crisis leaves Will County government footing the bill

JOLIET – A recurring theme emerged during Tuesday’s Will County Finance Committee: State government is increasingly turning into a deadbeat while pressuring local governments to do more with less.

Finance Committee members approved lending up to $3 million to the Will County Health Department to stave off a potential cash flow problem because of the state’s budget impasse.

Susan Olenek, health department executive director, said the department’s $29 million operation is split three ways with fees and reimbursements, federal and state grant dollars and a health tax levy.

“As you know, with state government and the non-payments taking place with their obligations, we are seeing that we’re not quite making our revenue numbers,” Olenek said.

Committee members also agreed to cover a $101,000 project – that was to be partially funded through an Illinois grant – for new LED lighting in the Will County Adult Detention Facility.

Kathy Percora, grant assistant for the Will County Resource and Recovery and Energy Division, said the county was approved for a $46,000 grant through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. But that money has yet to arrive because of the state budget impasse, she said.

The committee also approved Will County Clerk Nancy Schultz Voots’ request to increase election judges’ compensation from $135 to $150 for working on Election Day and taking the required training course. That amounts to an additional $22,500 – for a total of $225,000 per election.

Schultz Voots said election judges have not seen a compensation increase during her 14 years heading up the office. Yet unfunded state mandates – such as requiring same-day voter registration at all 300 polling places – have increased judges’ responsibilities significantly, she said.

All action must still be approved by the full County Board, which meets later this month.

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