Administrator: Champaign County's budget-cutting options 'not good'

Administrator: Champaign County's budget-cutting options 'not good'

URBANA — A list of budget-cutting options for consideration by Champaign County Board members includes eliminating a re-entry program for people recently released from jail or prison, delaying the purchase of replacement radio units for sheriff's office employees, deferring again the purchase of a software program for the county administration, eliminating the county's contribution to the Youth Assessment Center and cutting back voting opportunities in next year's primary and general elections.

And the list, to be considered tonight by county board members at a committee-of-the-whole meeting, still falls short of meeting the $1.425 million of budget cuts needed to balance the county budget and to fund the county-owned nursing home for 12 more months.

County board Democrats last month voted down a plan to sell the nursing home by the middle of 2018 and instead opted to keep it under county control for at least a full year.

"These are not good options," said outgoing County Administrator Rick Snider, who developed the list of draft budget cuts along with some county board members. "If they want to try to do this in preference to staff cuts, they have to look at these. But they can't close it entirely with these. And the more they pull off from these items, they're going to have to increase the number of people laid off. Or do it earlier in the year."

If the entire list of $1.14 million in budget cuts was enacted, Snider said, it likely still would require laying off more than 20 county employees late in 2018.

"There's still not enough cuts there to make up the $1.4 million. So we're still looking at positions," said Snider, whose last day as a county employee will be Nov. 30. "We could defer some of the cuts until later in the year. But any layoffs that occur later in the year will have to be sustained for the future years because those one-time cuts won't do us any good in 2019, for example."

Snider, in a memo to county board members, made it clear he doesn't support the cuts.

"None of these options are desirable," he wrote.

Among the items on the list:

— $387,786 set aside for replacement radios for the sheriff's office, to replace units that are 11 years old.

— $272,000 to replace the county's 40-year-old software system for human resources and financial management.

— $236,600 for the county Youth Assessment Center, a diversion program for at-risk youth. "There is other funding that comes in, but that cut would be devastating," Snider said. "I don't think the program would continue with that kind of a cut."

— $83,333 for the re-entry council, which works to reduce recidivism. "That one definitely would be out. That would allow it to operate for the first two months of the year to finish out our contract with them. But after that, it would be done," Snider explained.

— $70,000 cut from the county clerk's budget for elections administration. County Clerk Gordy Hulten said earlier that would mean consolidating 14 of the county's 96 polling places for both elections next year and eliminating all early voting locations except his office at the Brookens Center.

— The county's $15,000 contribution to the Economic Development Corporation, $10,000 to the Visit Champaign County tourism bureau and $5,000 to the Community Coalition, which helps coordinate issues involving youth and families.

The county board, gathering tonight at a committee of the whole meeting, will review the list and possibly adopt it. The meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the Brookens Administrative Center.

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Bob from Champaign wrote on November 14, 2017 at 9:11 am

Has anyone calculated the saving if the CCNH was closed, but not sold?  All current residents would be transferred to other private facilites.  The building could be kept for a while and could be reopened if the financial picture improves and if there is still interest in having the facility under county administration.

EdRyan wrote on November 14, 2017 at 11:11 am

Looking on from Vermilion County, this is quite an amazing thing to see.  The economy in Champaign County is thriving, booming even,  yet the county is struggling to pay the bills and maintain county property.  Vermilion County did sell the county nursing home a few years ago, but Champaign County looks like it would still be in trouble even without the nursing home.

BruckJr wrote on November 14, 2017 at 3:11 pm

Is Vermilion County controlled by Democrats?

EdRyan wrote on November 14, 2017 at 4:11 pm


aantulov wrote on November 14, 2017 at 3:11 pm

How about increasing the taxes on box stores or chain stores that are vaccant.  Chances are they got credits when they were built.  That should force them to put investing in their property or selling at a bargin rate at the top of their priortiy list!

Or how about putting a pollution tax on items that are costly to recycle and end up in our water supply?

Or how about putting a tax on out of state rental property owners, ten fold so property owners can be held accountable. 

Or how about  taxing business that have part time employees without insurance. 


dwbronson wrote on November 15, 2017 at 1:11 am

Based on tonight's meeting, it is obvious that the Republicans on the County Board do not understand (or want to try to understand) how facilities like nursing homes work. At least for me, that's enough to tip the scales in favor of selling the facility - just to get the people who want to see it fail out of the equation.