Peoria County’s proposed budget for 2018 creates a surplus in revenue by the end of the year. But County Board Chairman Andrew Rand says while that may look good on paper, it’s no cause for celebration.
Rand says ongoing structural challenges, like a lack of sales tax revenue, continue threaten the bottom line.
“Sales tax dollars have been in consistent decline. If you think of internet sales and the impact of amazon, or retail shift from one community to another. Folks perhaps buying across the river, as you might say," rand said.
The proposed budget projects ending 2018 with a surplus of about $331,482. The current year is projected to end with a surplus of $1.7 million. But in the proposed budget's current form, the forecast for the year 2022 shows a $2.3 million shortfall.
"We are fighting a moving target,” Rand said.
Massive cuts to Peoria County personnel spending are largely the cause behind the budget surpluses in 2017 and 2018. Peoria County offered buyouts to employees and laid off dozens of positions in 2017, including 14 people from the sheriff’s department.
“Most of this year’s surplus is being achieved through the defunding of vacant positions," County Administrator Scott Sorrell said. "We have positions that have been vacant for a number of weeks or months, and have been budgeted in the past. We’re not going to budget for those any more.”
Sorrell says there might be one layoff in 2018, due to the restructuring of a department. He didn’t provide further details. Information pertaining to the hiring or firing of employees is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.
The proposed budget in its current form will be presented on Oct. 12, to be approved in early November.