Perry County Board proposes $1.3M in cuts this year - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Perry County Board proposes $1.3M in cuts this year

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PERRY COUNTY (WSIL) -- On Tuesday, Perry County board members proposed an amended budget of $4.1 million. That's a nearly $1.3 million cut for just this year. 

County Clerk Josh Gross says previous discussion on the budget had focused on making cuts over two or three years, "This is a very significant cut. More than I was preparing the board to make. I think that they are trying to fix it in one swoop."

The Sheriff's office will be hit the hardest. The department, jail, and jail operations and maintenance line items would be taking a 65 percent cut. Telecommunications, or dispatch, will also see a 50 percent reduction. 

Sheriff Steve Bareis says, if approved, this will mean a reduced staff of him and four deputies, closing the jail and limiting dispatch hours from only 8 a.m. to midnight.

Meanwhile, Treasurer and collector Mary Jane Craft says it would force her to lay off one or both of her employees. She had proposed to go to a four-day work week but their union contracts require 40 hours.

"It makes me want to cry, is what it makes me want to do," Craft says. "If I could give them my check, which I've been trying to do that, but they said by the statutes I cannot do that" 

If both employees are laid off, Craft will have to do payroll and tax collecting on her own. "When you just have one person, you don't have any checks and balances," Craft explains. 

Like Craft, Gross also has concerns on what it means for services for residents. He says it could mean delays for records requested by residents. Usually, the Clerk's office is able to make them available the next day, but that wait time could soon become up to three days.

Gross thinks board members might want to reconsider the budget amendment before deciding whether to make it permanent in two weeks, "If we made all of these severe cuts, but they’re not attainable to get to then what was the point of what we just did." 

The next county board meeting is Thursday April 18 at 2 p.m.  There will be an opportunity for residents to voice their opinions during public comment.

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