BudgetBy Shelby R. Farrell


BOONE COUNTY – The officers, deputies, and sheriffs who work countless days and nights to keep the county safe will be by the state’s budget crisis.

At Boone County’s Special Finance, Taxation, and Salaries Committee Budget Hearings on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, the committee members discussed the budget for 2016. They faced deficiencies over $800,000 with no ways to bring in extra revenue in a state with bigger problems of its own.

During the meeting, Boone County Administrator Ken Terrinoni said he estimated “an $800,000 problem in the general fund” and another more then $200,000 could be included as well while the county waits for reimbursements from the state for the State’s Attorney, State’s Attorney’s Public Defender, and the Supervisor of Assessments.

The committee met on Sept. 21 and decided to trust in the state to pay them for these positions necessary to Boone County public safety.

“We’ve gotten reimbursements for the last 50 years,” Committee Chairman Karl Johnson said. “The only reason we’re not getting those now is because the state is in a budget impasse.”

The committee focused on the $800,000 hole in the general fund at the meetings on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. Terrinoni said half of the revenue problem comes from not getting detainees from other counties at the Boone County jail because the county jail is full with local detainees.

“We don’t have the space or the staffing import like we did in the past, so that’s about half of the issue right there,” he said.

The other half stems from an economy that is still recovering from the Great Recession of 2008. Terrinoni said the tax base and sales taxes haven’t recovered since then, but even scarier the county has also seen sources of revenue disappear.

“We used to get $150,000 from Poplar Grove for deputies, and because of their own fiscal issues, they had to discontinue that,” he said. “Budgets are never static things. You do something one year, and it affects you year after year after year.”

Not seeing these kinds of revenues over the years has affected more than the county’s budget. The Boone County Sheriff’s Department and the County Corrections Officers have also reported hours upon hours of overtime this year.

“The corrections, they’re actually down a few officers, so the overtime’s really really high, and the same with the sheriff, so we’re really caught in quite a box here,” Terrinoni said. “We don’t have the money to add more personnel, but by not adding more personnel, we incur a lot of overtime.”

He said the overtime costs for corrections officers might reach $300,000 this year. The County Corrections and Jail is short two people from what they had budgeted for the year. The Jail Superintendent, Lt. John Hare, said while filling the two open positions would help the overtime crisis, adding two more positions would help it “tremendously.”

The Boone County Sheriff, Dave Ernest, also said he is eight less deputies from how many were in the department a few years ago, and said he is constantly calling officers in to work more hours. He and Johnson showed concern for the safety of the county if all of the sheriff’s deputies are not as properly trained and tired from working too much.

“That’s a huge concern to us not being able to do that,” Ernest said. “We’d like to build a five-year plan to build that up slowly. We’re trying to be realistic.”

The five-year plan includes adding two new positions each year until they reach a goal closer to 54, versus the 34 officers they have now.

However, adding four new positions to the two departments in 2016 could cost the county over $100,000 for salaries and benefits. That cost could also rise to over $200,000 in 2017 if they add two more positions to the sheriff’s office.

Nevertheless, Terrinoni said the departments would see reductions in overtime. The committee allowed for him to work with the departments to look for ways to afford those new positions.

The County Finance, Taxation and Salaries Committee continued the budget discussion on Oct. 8 and will continue the budget discussion again at 1212 Logan Ave. in Belvidere Oct.19.

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