Perry County leaders to make $1.3M in cuts - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Perry County leaders to make $1.3M in cuts

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PERRY CO. -- Layoffs and a possible four-day work week could soon be a reality for Perry County employees. Department heads and the county board met to discuss the $1.3 million shortfall on Friday afternoon. 

Early in the meeting, Commissioner Dallas Bigham pointed out just how dire the circumstances are. 

"I think we're at the point right now," he said. "I mean, we're almost just shutting every thing down, shutting the whole county down." 

The county's money problems all started because of the state's budget impasse. State funding slowed down, and it's not improving. This week voters rejected the county's effort to pass a half-cent sales tax

County Treasurer Mary Jane Craft is worried about bounced checks and being able to afford health care expenses for employees.

"When our employees go to the drug store or go to their doctor, then people start refusing to basically fill things for them," she said. 

County leaders are planning to cut $700,000 from the budget this year, and $600,000 next year to make up for the county's budget short fall.  

Bigham suggested reducing employee hours to a four day work week.

However, Rhett Barke, attorney for the county, said that would only save the county $6,000, simply not enough. 

Other possible cuts including laying off a maintenance worker and three deputies from the sheriff's office.

If that happens, Sheriff Steve Bareis is concerned about a gap in public safety as state troopers would have to help cover the area but are also limited in personnel. 

"There may be a six-hour block where we have no deputy in Perry County. We'll have two troopers on for entire Southern Illinois as well," Bareis explained. 

If the jail closed the county would loss money from holding federal inmates.  Plus, the county would have to pay contracts to transport and house it's inmates elsewhere. 

The solution that county leaders came up with is for department heads to define a bare minimum number to run their offices and still comply with the law, find areas to make cuts, and see if specialty funds can be used to pay employees. 

Reports are due to the county board members next Tuesday, April 9, while a decision on cuts could come as early as that Thursday, April 7, when another special meeting has been set for 2 p.m. 

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