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Kane County looks at change in budgeting process


The district’s finance director says Kane County won’t have enough revenue to support its expected expenses next fiscal year, so he’s asking the Kane County Board Finance Committee to decide how to make up the difference early in the budgeting process.

Kane County has been unable to balance its main operating account, called the general fund, for the past several years without cutting costs or tapping into cash reserves, according to Kane County Finance Director Kathleen Hopkinson.

The issue had previously been pushed to the end of the budgeting process, but this year it will ask the Finance Committee to make an early decision on how to balance the budget.

“We already know we don’t have enough money in our general fund for our 2025 budget,” he said. “If the county board can give that guidance up front, departments can include it when they put together their budgets.”

According to Hopkinson, only 4% of a Kane County resident’s tax bill goes to the county, with the rest going to other local governments such as school boards, municipalities, counties and more.

He said the county hasn’t raised property taxes in 14 years, though expenses like salaries and contracted services continue to rise, contributing to the revenue problem it now faces.

“The tax rate you pay for Kane County services has been declining for over a decade because we can no longer collect money. “We’re expanding this to more people and companies,” Hopkinson said.

At the Feb. 8 Kane County Board Committee meeting, District 5 board member Bill Lenert suggested the Finance Department could estimate how much revenue the county will receive in fiscal year 2025 and share those estimates with the county’s offices and departments. Help shape their budgets.

“Instead of trying to find money after they convince us of their needs, we let them know, ‘We don’t have the money to meet all your needs and wants,'” he said.

Kane County Board President Corinne Pierog called Lenert’s proposal a “solid idea” and added that board members should be given a report showing which funds must be spent by law and which are flexible.

According to Hopkinson, almost everything the county does is mandated by a state statute or county law.

The county board’s Finance Committee is expected to provide guidance to the county’s departments and offices on how the county board plans to balance the budget at its next meeting on Feb. 28, Hopkinson said.

At this meeting, the committee will consider another change to the budgeting process, setting budget goals before requesting funds.

Under Hopkinson’s proposed amendment at the Committee meeting, Kane County offices and departments would set a mission and several goals at the beginning of the budgeting process, rather than simply requesting funds from the county board. The requested funds can then be attributed to a goal of the department or office.

Hopkinson said he hoped the change would improve communication between ministries and relevant county committees, as well as enable ministries to think differently about requesting funding.

“The people who work in these offices and departments work hard every day,” he said. “If they can put pen to paper as part of the budgeting process and write down the bottom line of what they’re doing and why they’re doing everything they’re doing, that will go a long way. I help the board understand everything that’s going on.”

In order for the budget process to be changed, the proposal must first go to the Finance Committee, then the Executive Committee, and finally pass a vote by the Kane County Board.

According to Hopkinson, in previous years, county departments and offices would submit requested funds to the appropriate county committee, and those requests would be included in the final budget. Once the budget is approved by the county board, the goals and missions of a department or office will be established, he said.

Hopkinson also said he hoped to shift targets from “outputs” to “outcomes” with the proposed change. He defined outputs as simple measurements, but outcomes as broad goals that can be tracked and reveal new ways to accomplish what the department or office actually wants to do.

For example, one outcome might be “the amount of traffic tickets issued,” while the relevant outcome might be “safer streets with fewer traffic accidents,” he said. While the traffic ticket outcome is very specific, a “safer streets” outcome may include issuance of a certain number of traffic tickets and redirecting law enforcement to other ways to make streets safer (such as strategic placement of officers in problem areas or improvements). road signs.

“This first year doesn’t have to be perfect,” Hopkinson said. “Most of what is being monitored, there are some results, but they are more output, and I think if we can talk about the results over time, that will be a better form of communication.”



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