DANVILLE — The Vermilion County Board will decide Tuesday whether to lease its juvenile detention center and shift more of the funding burden from the state to the local level.
The county board will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday on the second floor of the Vermilion County Courthouse Annex, 6 N. Vermilion St., Danville. The board has a full agenda, including considering its new property tax levy.
Several years ago, the state's goal was to reimburse counties for 100 percent of juvenile detention center salaries across Illinois, but it never reached that point. Now, the state's reimbursement level for detention center salaries has dropped significantly. For Vermilion, the reimbursement level has dropped from 80 percent of the center's salaries to about 30 percent of its more than $1 million annual payroll, according to Vermilion County Board Chairman Jim McMahon.
The county has had to make up the difference with money from its general fund, but it can no longer afford to do that, partly because the general fund has reached its tax cap, according to McMahon. That means the county cannot ask for more property tax dollars next year than what's already flowing into the general fund.
So county officials are asking county board members to lease the 26-bed detention facility to the public building commission, an authority that was created to fund construction of the Public Safety Building, which houses the county jail, sheriff's department and Danville Police Department. The county and city both pay the commission to operate the Public Safety Building.
Likewise, the proposed lease that the county board will consider Tuesday sets up a similar arrangement between the commission and the county, which will pay the commission roughly $2 million a year in lease payments to run the detention center for at least the next several years. The board meets at 6 p.m. on the second floor of the Vermilion County Courthouse Annex, 6 N. Vermilion St., Danville.
The lease will be considered at Tuesday's meeting along with the county's proposed budget and property tax levy for the new fiscal year that begins Dec. 1. McMahon said the lease arrangement is financially tied to the levy and the budget, which projects a $2.2 million shortfall between anticipated revenues of $44.5 million and $46.8 million in projected expenses. The budget projects shortfalls in several funds, including more than $400,000 in the general fund.
The detention center lease would allow the county to shift the local funding burden from the general fund to the Public Safety Building rent fund, which has no tax cap.
The county is projecting a deficit of more than $800,000 in that fund next year, but the fund has a healthy reserve, according to McMahon. Plus, the county is also planning to boost revenue into that fund by increasing the portion of the levy that flows into the PSB rent fund.
According to the county's proposed property tax levy, the PSB rent fund levy will increase to $5 million next year compared with $3.7 million this year.
To ensure that the county's overall property tax levy doesn't increase next year, county officials are decreasing other portions of the levy, including the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, liability insurance fund and federal payroll insurance and Social Security fund. The IMRF portion of the levy alone will be reduced by more than $1 million.
The result of reductions in other areas is an overall property tax levy of $12,074,866, which is $839 less than the levy approved last year.