URBANA -- Champaign County Board members voted to lift the county's three-year hiring freeze and to shift the county's fiscal year so that it begins on Jan. 1 instead of Dec. 1.
The hiring freeze was enacted in December 2010 when the county was attempting to cut expenditures because of plunging tax revenues.
But financial conditions have improved to the point where the county's general fund has operated in the black the last three years. Earlier this month, meeting as a committee of the whole, the board determined there was not a need to continue the hiring freeze.
The change was approved Thursday with no discussion and only Champaign Democrat Pattsi Petrie opposing it.
The county's fiscal year has run from Dec. 1 through Nov. 30 for "as long as there have been budgets," County Administrator Deb Busey said Thursday.
The change will help in several ways, she said, by better coordinating the county's fiscal year with the state and federal fiscal years and by making it easier for county departments to close out budget years. Currently that task is done in December, when many departments are shorthanded because of the holidays.
The change will require that the county's next budget -- for fiscal year 2014 -- will be a 13-month plan, beginning Dec. 1, 2013, and ending Dec. 31, 2014.
Also Thursday, the board approved an agreement with The News-Gazette and Advanced Technology Recycling to hold two countywide residential electronics collection events on April 20 and Oct. 12. The events will be held at The News-Gazette's distribution center on Apollo Drive in north Champaign.
All 22 board members were present for the meeting.