The County Board recognizes there is no greater need for a balanced budget than during difficult economic times. Economic uncertainty, therefore, served as a primary guiding principle this fall when we developed our 2009 overall budget. The County’s current fiscal condition, taxpayer burden and spending restraint were also key considerations in developing a budget focused on financial solvency and cost-effective service delivery.
While the duration of the nation’s economic predicament is unknown, we can be certain of the County’s current and future financial stability with our continued adherence to these financial policies:
- Fund balances set at levels intended to cover the maximum difference between expenses and revenues and a percentage of expenses
- A pay-as-you-go balanced budget philosophy that requires current expenses be paid with current revenues
- Efforts to plan for capital expenses
- Diversified sources of revenue and, where possible, user fees set at 100 percent of the actual cost of providing the service.
These policies, implemented in 2001 and reviewed annually, serve to guide financial decisions and seek to expand non-property tax revenues where possible. Indeed, Peoria County has lowered its property tax rate for the fifth consecutive year. In an effort to address taxpayer burden, the County will decrease its property tax rate in 2009 from $0.8157 to $0.8058 per $100 of assessed value, 0.99 cents less than the extended 2008 rate. Property taxes comprise 21.4 percent of the County’s revenue; approximately 12 percent of your tax bill is appropriated to Peoria County.
Non-property tax revenues include charges for services, licenses and permits; intergovernmental revenues; and sales and income tax. Overall revenues for 2009 are projected at $118,930,220, an increase of 1.51 percent over the 2008 budget. On November 20th, the County Board approved an appropriation of $121,870,702 for the 2009 budget that includes the operating budget, debt service payments and fund transfers. Even with the addition of five FTEs to meet increased public safety needs, the 2009 budget is a 14.4 percent decrease over the revised 2008 budget.
The 2009 appropriation also includes a capital budget of $5,941,011, drawn from healthy fund balances in the General Fund and highway-related funds, such as the Motor Fuel Tax Fund. The County Board’s pay-as-you-go financial policy guides the County’s operational budget: current expenses are paid with current revenues. The capital budget, on the other hand, draws down fund balances that exceed balance requirements as established by the board’s financial policy. 2009 capital projects include the expansion of Wilhelm Road and other highway projects, courthouse security improvements and facility maintenance.
Yet again, administrative staff, elected officials and department supervisors, in cooperation with the newly-formed finance department, were able to present the County Board a balanced budget that continues to enhance service delivery, execute our strategic action agenda and allow Peoria County to work in partnership with other governments throughout 2009. Peoria County will continue to operate with a sound and responsible budget that complies with board policy and allows us to be more nimble in response to the current economic climate and taxpayer burden. iBi