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A fiscal new year’s headache

It’s time to start the fiscal new year for county governments in Illinois, though for some, deficit spending is a constant headache. We encourage taxpayers to scrutinize local government spending as much as they do their own finances.

Published: Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

Happy County Government Fiscal New Year’s Eve!

“What are you talking about?” we hear some of you asking.

Well, Illinois’ 102 counties will end their fiscal years at the stroke of midnight today.

Come Sunday, Dec. 1, Fiscal Year 2014 begins.

In Illinois, where an astounding 6,994 units of government compete for the public’s tax dollars, taxpayers have other Fiscal New Year’s Eves to endure.

For many townships, Fiscal New Year’s Eve is March 31. The new fiscal year begins April 1.

For cities, villages and park districts, Fiscal New Year’s Eve is April 30. The new year begins May 1.

For the state government, school districts, and community colleges, the Fiscal New Year’s Eve is June 30. The new year begins July 1.

For the federal government, the Fiscal New Year’s Eve is Sept. 30. The new year begins Oct. 1.

Political squabbles in Washington, D.C., brought a prolonged fiscal hangover to the federal government in October. The 16-day government shutdown was not the most propitious way to start the feds’ new fiscal year.

Whiteside County will begin its new fiscal year Sunday with a budget in place to spend about $38.2 million and the means, apparently, to cover those expenses.

Lee County’s budget, approved earlier this month, calls for total expenditures in the range of $20 million.

However, Lee County continues to operate with a budget deficit, which the County Board again decided to cover with money transferred from landfill tipping fees.

The new budget calls for $750,000 to be transferred to cover a deficit of more than $726,000.

The only County Board member to raise concerns at the Nov. 19 meeting was Dick Binder, who remarked that the board seems to be making no effort to reduce the deficit. The board then approved its deficit budget, 15-6, and that was that.

Last year, Lee’s budget had a deficit of $876,000 in the general fund, with a $600,000 transfer needed to partially plug the hole.

Taxpayers have grown accustomed to other fiscal new years that herald deficit budgets, including the federal and state governments. If Lee County Board members remain satisfied with annual budget deficits, voters should keep that in mind at the polls next year.

People have their own Fiscal New Year’s Eve approaching on Dec. 31. We hope the new year is profitable for one and all. We further hope that taxpayers cast the same critical eye on the spending of local governments as they do on their own finances.

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