JOLIET – The Will County Board unanimously approved the county’s fiscal 2017 budget on Thursday.
The county’s corporate fund amounts to $198 million, while special funds total $371 million for a total operating budget of $569 million. The balanced budget uses no cash reserves, and the county continues to meet all financial obligations, such as contributions to employee retirement funds.
A proposed $570 million budget was presented in September to the County Board. Will County Budget Director ReShawn Howard said there were minimal changes to the budget after board review. The fiscal 2017 budget takes effect Dec. 1.
Board member Steve Wilhelmi, D-Joliet, commended everyone involved in the budgeting process.
“This is probably one of the easiest budgets to get through the County Board in my 18 years [on the board],” Wilhelmi said.
Finance Committee Chairman Mike Fricilone, R-Homer Glen, noted reports that the average Cook County family will be paying an average of $1,700 more in taxes in 2017, in addition to the tax the county placed on sugary drinks.
This differs from Will County.
“We were able to reduce our tax rate to 0.613 [percent], which is a small amount, but our taxes will go down for an average family here in Will County,” Fricilone said, also joking that Will County soda sales now will rise.
This is the second consecutive year Will County reduced its tax levy. The fiscal 2016 rate was 0.6196 percent, and in fiscal 2015 it was 0.6433 percent.
County Board Speaker Jim Moustis, R-Frankfort, said operational and employee costs are being kept in line.
He said within the budget are some important initiatives for the county, including the $30 million Will County Public Safety Complex, and initial work on the new Will County Judicial Complex and new Will County Health Department.
The budget also increases the county’s investment in its roadway system, Moustis said.
“We have some major secondary roads that are county roads that go through Will County,” Moustis said. “We continue to put pretty large investments in our infrastructure, including roads and bridges.”
Moustis said there was a lot of collaboration this fall between the County Board and Executive Office staff, so there wasn’t a lot to disagree on.
The County Board meeting in which the fiscal 2016 budget was approved one year ago was about five hours long, while Thursday’s was about two hours.