Rauner’s proposal may slash DeKalb funds by $2.2M


By Alexander Chettiath

The city of DeKalb might see state funds cut by $2.2 million, about half of what it receives now, for Fiscal Year 2016.

The cuts will reduce the Local Government Distributive Fund, a fund taken from income tax the state receives and adds into local governments’ general funds.

DeKalb’s current general revenue fund is close to $35 million. In DeKalb, the Local Government Distributive Fund is used for police and fire services, roads and sidewalks, planning and zoning initiatives, public safety, water and sewer and public works, said DeKalb Mayor John Rey.

Gov. Bruce Rauner proposed cutting the Local Government Distributive Fund to help with the $6.2 billion budget hole for FY 2016. In his February budget address, Rauner said the amount of money transferred to local governments has grown 42 percent over the past decade and $6 billion is transferred every year, despite local governments having $15 million in cash reserves.

Negotiations for increasing the percentage of income tax that goes into the fund are making their way through the House in the form of a bill cosponsored by Rep. Bob Pritchard, R-Hinckley. The bill looks to amend the Income Tax Act so the fund would rise from 8 percent to 8.5 percent for 2016 and increase to 10 percent by 2019, Pritchard said.

“There is an important provision that it mandates a monthly transfer of funds. Right now those transfers have often been delayed as the governor struggled to make cash flow,” Pritchard said.

The Metro West Council of Government, an association of municipalities serving DeKalb, Kane and Kendall counties, stated their disappointment in Rauner’s proposed cuts to local government funds during a Feb. 24 news conference. Elgin Mayor David Kaptain, president of the council, said other Illinois residents rely on Elgin for services, such as resources for victims of domestic violence, and may not be able to access those services if the cuts are made.

“With the record of fiscal stewardship by municipal governments encouraged by accountability to local voters, I believe it’s a compelling argument to drive additional value for taxpayers by maintaining the municipal share of the Local Government Distributive Fund revenue,” Rey said.

DeKalb County will lose close to $800,000 from its Local Government Distributive Fund. A variety of county offices will be adversely affected by this cut, including the sheriff’s department, treasurer’s office, county clerk’s office, planning and zoning and county assessment office, said DeKalb County Treasurer Christine Johnson.

“We think it’s important to have conversations and keep a line open with the governor and the General Assembly. I think they are aware of how important this funding is to our counties and our cities. We are anxious to find a solution that is least detrimental,” Johnson said.

Rauner’s budget and the proposed cuts are being debated by the Legislature. A vote on the state budget is expected to be held in the summer.