RICO likely to cut jobs from public safety

RICO

ROCK ISLAND CO., Ill. (KWQC) – Frustration could be felt throughout Rock Island County’s budget committee meeting. A failed sales tax has left them with few options for a balanced budget.

“This isn’t a good situation,” said Rock Island County Finance and Budget Chair Richard Brunk.

After the failure of half cent sales tax on election night the Rock Island County Budget Committee was asked Thursday Nov. 10 to review where cuts can be made to make sure the county is financially stable. It’s a position County Administrator Dave Ross didn’t want to be in.

“We’ve already presented everything as if the referendum would pass,” Ross said.

He said the tax failure has left the county with no choice.

“We’ve laid off employees, we cut, we cut, we’ve cut. We’ve done everything proactively, and now we’re down to public safety which is what we were trying to protect,” Ross said.

Ross is recommending that all capital projects be on hold for fiscal year 2017 and 2018, and 35 jobs be cut from public safety, a part of the county already functioning at minimum staffing.

“We don’t want to drop below minimum, we don’t have a choice right now,” Ross said.

Brunk and the rest of his team will ultimately make the recommendations to the full board.

“We don’t take this lightly,” Brunk said.

He said they will take the next week to think over the options.

“We need to do everything we can to keep our deputies on the street and make sure that they are available for calls,” Brunk said.

But, as Ross stated, there are few options left.

“The sheriff’s office, public safety is the largest portion of the general fund budget, and that’s where the county is hurting,” Brunk said.

“Yes this is going to be very detrimental,” Ross said.

Ross said the 35 proposed cuts are only an option if all capital improvement projects are canceled over the next two years. If those remain, the county would be looking at 81 cuts.

Wednesday Nov.16 the budget committee will meet again to determine which departments can be cut. With multiple already working below minimum staffing those departments will be exempt. The committee will make a recommendation to the board at the end of the month.

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