By Bob Balgemann

Reporter

Voters are close to knowing who they will have to choose from in the Nov. 6 Boone County general election.

The only unknown at this point is whether any Independent candidates will declare their candidacies in June. They were able to begin circulating their nominating petitions on March 27, and will file between June 18 and 25.

Meanwhile, current county board members have a tough job ahead of them following the defeat of the public safety sales tax referendum.

“We have to pick up the pieces and move on,” board Chairman Karl Johnson said. “It’s going to be ugly, I’m afraid.”

He predicted “a significant number of cuts” would have to be made in the next budget cycle. “It won’t be pleasant. I hope the safety of the community won’t be compromised in the long-run.”

Voters rejected the 50-cent increase in the sales tax by 4,093 to 3,290 in the March 20 primary election. Of the county’s 32,552 registered voters, 22.6 percent made that decision. One year ago, also in a primary election setting, voters rejected that same 50-cent tax increase, 2,846 to 2,251. In that one, 15 percent of the registered voters made the decision.

Overall this year, 23.10 percent of Boone’s voters cast ballots in the primary.

Independent of one another Board Chairman Johnson and Board Member Sherry Giesecke, in her second year as chairperson of the Finance, Taxation and Salaries Committee, had similar observations about the referendum loss. Each found it difficult that voters would approve a tax increase for construction of a new Animal Services building, but would not approve 50 cents on $100 to enhance the safety of the community.

Sheriff Dave Ernest more than once has explained in detail the myriad of public safety needs that exist in the county.

Before the primary, Committee Chair Giesecke worked up what she called a “Plan B” for addressing the ongoing financial difficulties:

* Utilize a program, actually developed by the finance person in the Health Department, to price out any and all services, projects and processes, so that if and when it comes time to reduce costs, departments will already know which ones to cut based on cost.

* Reduce/eliminate any/all activities that do not have a broad-based impact on the county, such as UCCI, the lobbying outfit the county is involved in. Other possibilities are Growth Dimensions, Soil and Water Extension office. “Of course, we will continue to fund anything required by (state) statute,” she said.

* Go back to pushing for consolidation of services used by all departments, e.g. copier leases, lawn maintenance. etc.

* Work with departments to share/utilize staff across departmental lines.

* Perhaps not a cost saver but she said she is committed to work with the county administrator to streamline and simplify the budget process. “Certainly it cannot…

For full article, pick up the March 28 Belvidere Daily Republican.