ROCK ISLAND, Ill. (KWQC) – The Rock Island County Budget and Finance Committee met for the third and final time Tuesday night to recommend just under $1.5 million dollars in cuts in 14 departments throughout the county. This comes after a half cent public safety tax levy failed earlier this month.
The committee voted Tuesday night to move forward with a budget for FY2017.
Rock Island County Administrator Dave Ross says while it’s difficult, right now, it’s what they have to do.
“This is not a solution to the issues that we have, public safety’s at the forefront in Rock Island County, we have to be able to do what we can to protect that and this will hopefully get us through ’17, but again, this is not a solution, we still are working on it,” Ross said.
“As far as I’m concerned, this is a crisis budget for me,” Rock Island County Sheriff Gerry Bustos said.
Bustos says this means the Rock Island County Sheriff’s Department will have to eliminate more than $700,000 from their 2017 budget.
“We’ve eliminated all our capital improvement projects, which sounds like these are all things we’re going to build and do new, but they’re not, it’s really about fixing the things that we have,” Bustos said.
Bustos says cuts won’t be coming out of his current staff.
“I am not laying anybody off, I’ve said that through this entire process that I was not doing that and I’m not going to,” he said.
Instead, he says four openings with the department will not be filled.
“I will keep them on the books, but I am zeroing out their salaries, so if in fact later this year or in another year we find a path forward to being in a better position, I would hope to fill those then,” Bustos said.
Even with additional cuts from personnel, capital projects and maintenance across other county departments, Ross says they will still have to borrow money throughout the year.
“It doesn’t make a lot of business sense to pay for your operating expenses with borrowed money, you’re paying interest, doesn’t make sense, but we have to do what we have to to get through and still provide the necessary minimum services to the public,” Ross said.
Ross says with this plan, the committee will meet quarterly to review where their budget is at.
The Rock Island County Board will vote on the budget plan on Tuesday, Nov. 29.