Winnebago County board members approved their 2017 budget Thursday. The county successfully balancing their budget and eliminating a $7.5 million deficit.
“This was a hard budget,” said Finance Committee Chairman Ted Biondo. “Because we’ve never faced a 7 and a half million dollar deficit before. Usually it’s between one and two.”
Biondo says the board successfully voted to restructure their debt on the new Justice Center, and borrow money from over 100 other funds to balance the budget for next year. He says without that, they would have had to cut jobs to be able to balance it.
“We would have had to cut 12 percent out. And that’s one out of eight people. And there’s no way we wanted to do that,” said Biondo.
One of the biggest outcomes of the balanced budget was the addition of over $900,000 for the Sheriff’s Office, bringing their total budget for 2017 to over $38 million. The Sheriff had asked for $1 million earlier this year. Dozens of Sheriff’s Deputies attended the meeting in a show of support for the budget.
Board Member Eli Nicolosi says he believes that helped get the budget passed.
“I think their support really kind of pushed it over the edge,” Nicolosi said. “I think a lot of board members kinda saw them, looked behind, and they realized this isn’t just numbers, this isn’t just figures, it’s people’s lives that matter.”
The board also approved a $100,000 contribution to Rosecrance, following several other pledges from local hospitals, to keep the mental health organization’s triage center open.