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Rock Island County board approves 2022 budget with no tax increase, but a $13 million shortfall
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ROCK ISLAND COUNTY

Rock Island County board approves 2022 budget with no tax increase, but a $13 million shortfall

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Rock Island County residents can rest easy; the county is keeping next year's tax rate steady amid a $13 million shortfall in the 2022 budget. 

Board members on Tuesday approved the budget and levy ordinance by a vote of 19-2. Lauren Boswell-Loftin and Robert Westpfahl opposed.

"The tax rate of 1.3042% is the same as last year's levy," said County Administrator Jim Snider. "We are going to capture the estimated 2.6% growth in the EAV."

Snider said the anticipated increase in the equalized assessed value (EAV) of property and homes will provide an additional $945,360 in revenue.

The total levy amount for 2022 is $36.5 million for the county's portion of the property tax bill, with the county's general fund levy set at $6,997,016 and the special purpose funds levy at $29.5 million.

The budget shows $88.3 million in expenses and $75.1 million in revenues, for a shortage of $13 million in the county's budget. American Rescue Plan funds will help make up the difference. 

Boswell-Loftin said one of her issues with the budget was the county's decision to hire a full-time manager to supervise the allocation and distribution of $27.5 million in American Rescue Plan funds. The manager will be paid a full-time salary of $82,000, despite previous discussions by the board to hire a temporary manager for $10,000, she said.  

"I opposed (the budget) because with the spending, there are some items in there I feel I need more information about," Boswell-Loftin said. "We got this grant money and we have hired someone to manage those grant dollars. It seems like a lot of that (ARP) spending was already in the 2022 budget. Those are things we haven't talked about.

"Most of the (ARP) money is budgeted out, so why are hiring someone to manage it?" she said. "The money is allocated. I was opposed to hiring a manger in the first place. With a 25-member board, we are familiar with the budget process; that's why I opposed it. In talking to a couple other board members, they also thought it was a $10,000 temporary position."

Snider said the ARP program manager will be responsible for providing detailed reports to the U.S. Treasury and overseeing the RFP process for major projects.

Within the special purpose funds, the highest levy amounts are $8.9 million for the liability insurance fund; $5.1 million for the jail lease fund; $4.2 million for Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund; and $2.8 million for the nursing home tax levy.

The county is allowed by law to continue to levy taxes on the former county-owned Hope Creek Care Center as long as the county owes money on the facility. Snider said about $7 million to $8 million remains on the loan. 

"I supported the budget, which put a priority on public safety, public health and maintaining the county's overall property tax levy at the same level as last year," said board member Porter McNeil. "A budget that includes no increase in our tax levy is something the taxpayers in the county deserve."

Rock Island County board member Kai Swanson argues in support of the 19 newly drawn districts during the Nov. 16, 2021 board meeting. 

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