Winnebago County board passes balanced budget, Sheriff threatens suit

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) ─ Winnebago County board members pass a balanced budget for 2020.

The budget passed on a 12 to 7 vote Thursday night.

The county board reduced a potential $4.1 million deficit to under $1 million. It came with some controversy.

A total of seven items were amended to help make up the shortfall. Among them was a cut to student loan assistance for the State’s Attorney staff and the elimination of vacant position salaries for county departments. The county will also dip into reserve funds to close the remaining gap.

According to Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana his department will lose out on $2.7 million. $1.7 million agreed to in his settlement with the county was not included in the 2020 fiscal year.

Caruana says he will sue over the loss. He already sued back in 2017 when he was forced to cut $4 million from his budget.

“I’m their default. So let’s cut the Sheriff’s budget. Well, it’s a necessary entity,” said Sheriff Caruana. “I have four responsibilities and they’re deep. I have the law enforcement. I have corrections. I have courthouse security and I have civil processes. Each one of them bring in a lot of responsibility and I have to bring good people in.”

“You heard complaints about being too liberal. We can’t cut the Sheriff. We can’t cut this, we can’t cut that, but no solutions to where we need to be. That’s why we feel confident, I feel confident, where we ended up,” Winnebago County Board, District 12 member Jaime Salgado. “We took the due diligence to go through the process to ensure that what we laid out was actually conservative and was to the point where we felt comfortable and not just picking a number that we needed to get to.”

The county’s tax levy will stay at the same level. There had been some talks of raising the rate.

The fiscal year starts Tuesday, October 1st.

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