Metro-East News

Madison County Board slashes budget by 5% and almost every fund will take a hit

What Madison County department budgets were cut or increased for 2019?

Some department budgets were cut and others saw increases under the Madison County budget for 2019.
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Some department budgets were cut and others saw increases under the Madison County budget for 2019.

Madison County Board members expect the county to spend less money next year after approving a 2019 budget that’s $5.3 million less than its current one.

Board members approved a $139.9 million budget for Madison County’s planned expenditures in 2019 compared to the $145.2 million budget for this year.

Republicans had campaigned on keeping the county’s property tax levy the same or lower and on decreasing the budget, said Tom McRae, a Republican board member from Bethalto.

“Generally it’s rare with county or any government entity that they would decrease the levy,” McRae said. “It was one of the things I think we had all campaigned on and it was one of the goals to have a budget that was at or less than last year.”

The county also approved its property tax levy at the same meeting, holding the line on the $30.8 million it collected this year.

Almost every fund in the budget will take a hit, including the general fund, special revenue funds and the capital projects fund, though spending in some individual departments increased.

Board member Philip Chapman, a Republican from Highland, said the board had to make some difficult decision.

“The Finance Committee I serve on had to call for some difficult cuts,” Chapman said in a prepared statement. “However, all essential services are funded. These include public safety, election needs, and badly-needed repair and preventive maintenance of buildings.”

One of those difficult decisions was cutting budgets at the Madison County Historical Museum and in the Information Technology department, McRae said. The IT department budget was cut by $153,000, a 9 percent decrease, and the museum’s budget was cut by nearly $80,000, a 28 percent decrease.

One position was eliminated in the IT department and four part-time positions were eliminated at the museum, McRae said. The Animal Control department lost a position, as well.

“All of those were very difficult,” McRae said.

A few of those positions could potentially come back because two jobs added to the assessor’s office became unnecessary when voters decided against dissolving Alton Township. The assessor’s office planned to hire additional staff to account for the added assessing duties.

“We may have some flexibility going forward to reallocate that headcount to some of the other places that were cut,” McRae said.

The bridges department budget was cut nearly in half, but those cuts are not expected to last indefinitely, McRae said.

The full budget is available on Madison County’s website at https://bit.ly/2BtLhHC.

Here’s a look at some of the funds that saw cuts.

Bridges: 49 percent decrease

  • 2018 projected: $2,242,000

  • 2019 proposed: $1,138,707
  • Actual spending 2018 as of Sept. 30: $1,327,480

  • Actual spending 2017: $1,846,357

Highway: 9 percent decrease

  • 2018 projected: $4,725,100

  • 2019 proposed: $4,292,733

Personnel: 5 percent decrease

  • 2018 projected: $5,437,150

  • 2019 proposed: $5,156,234

Animal Care and Control: 7 percent decrease

  • 2018 projected: $769,693

  • 2019 proposed: $717,412

  • $60,000 was budged for the Animal Control Facility capital project fund.

Other departments, including Mental Health and the Sheriff’s Office, saw an increase from the 2018 budget. Facilities Management spending on the jail also increased as improvements continue to be made to the aging facility.

Here’s a look at some of the funds that saw increases.

Mental Health: 5 percent increase

  • 2018 projected: $2,925,443

  • 2019 proposed: $3,080,215

Sheriff’s administration: 7.5 percent increase

  • Projected 2018: $5,524,714

  • Proposed 2019: $5,941,822

Facilities Management jail spending: 17 percent increase

  • 2018 projected: $40,850

  • 2019 proposed: $47,750

Veterans Assistance: 6.5 percent increase

  • 2018 projected: $671,660

  • 2019 proposed: $715,613

Jail Administration: 7.5 percent increase

  • 2018 projected: $4,092,564

  • 2019 proposed: $4,400,755

State’s Attorney administration: 3.3 percent increase

  • 2018 projected: $2,972,287

  • 2019 proposed: $3,069,842

Kelsey Landis is a watchdog and local government reporter for the Belleville News-Democrat. She focuses on informing you about how public figures are using your tax dollars, and that includes keeping an eye out for wasteful spending.


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