Taxes are going up in Effingham County after a 6-2 vote to increase the county Tax levy 1.8% Monday, amounting to an additional $75,000. That extra money will be going directly to the Heath Department to increase their staff.
However, even with the increase the county is still running a deficit budget and plans to use funds from their savings to compensate. County Board Chairmen Jim Niemann said that with Illinois’ current financial woes, that’s not a good position to be in. “I’m worried about the inconsistencies of that money we get from the state that we rely on,” Niemann said. According to him, local taxes only make up around 20-25% of the county’s operating funds. While the county will soon start to get some revenue back after the new courthouse is paid off, around $1 million, they still will be facing increasing costs from inflation and mandatory personnel pay raises. One such bill coming up the near future is a $200,000 payment for the county’s 911 dispatch system. Niemann said that a public safety sales tax to help make up for the budget shortfall would likely be discussed.
Board Chairman Jim Niemann Discusses the tax levy.
Two board members, Lloyd Foster and John Perry, voted against the levy increase suggesting that the county needs to take more efforts to reduce the budget before raising taxes. “It would certainly be a lot more palatable to the tax payers if they see the effort on our part to do what can be cut,” Perry suggested. The county’s FY17 budget has not been finalized, so cuts could still be made. The county will be holding a budget meeting at 3:30 on December 29th to approve the final budget. A member of the public, Alan Shumaker, asked the board to “look hard for any cuts, as you are able, before raising taxes.”
In other action the board approved several appointments. David Campbell was appointed to the 911 Board along with Effingham’s new Police Chief Jeff Fuesting. John Perry was appointed to the Community Development Board. Three members were appointed to the county’s new committee for waste management including Brian Hayes, landfill representative; Kelsey Lock, City of Effingham Representative; and Amber Wille, from the County Health department.