Perry County proposes new amended budget, $1.1M in cuts - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Perry County proposes new amended budget, $1.1M in cuts

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PERRY COUNTY (WSIL) -- County leaders met for a special budget meeting May 13, replacing a previous proposed amended budget with a new one by third-party firm Bellwether Advantage. 

The consulting firm's proposed budget has around $1.1 million in cuts, versus the $1.3 million originally proposed. 

Part of the change is from using money in special funds to cover general fund expenses. But, Chairman Jim Epplin's concern had to do with Bellwether's suggestion to possibly increase real estate taxes to help close the gap. 

"Our county is made up of a lot of retirees and senior citizens," Epplin says. "They really can't afford more real estate taxes."

While Commissioner Robert Kelly says raising taxes is not guaranteed, "There might be a point that we may have to raise property taxes to offset some costs but he (Bellwether consultant) didn't say how much."

Kelly and commissioner Dallas Bigham voted in favor of replacing the proposed budget, but Epplin voted against it. 

One department head seeing about a half-million dollars in budget cut relief is Sheriff Steve Bareis. He says this will keep the jail open so inmates do not have to be transferred to other counties. It will also keep dispatch available 24/7 to take calls instead of reducing hours. 

During the meeting, several fee increases by Bellwether were approved that will go toward the sheriff's budget. Some of those include bond fees, work release fees, and animal control fees such as dog registration. 

This new amended budget will stay on public display for 15 days. Commissioner Kelly says he expects it to pass when the board decides to take a vote on it. 

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