Rock Island County looking at budget cuts

Rock Island County is trying to find a way to balance its checkbook, looking at some budget cuts in the days ahead and possible concessions in upcoming contract negotiations with public unions.

Right now, the county is in contract negotiations with the union representing Hope Creek Nursing Home, and officials say the outcome could impact the future of the county-owned nursing home.

“It’s going to take cooperation. The union knows this. We’ve been up front about it. We need their cooperation, for the home’s survival and their jobs. If we can work out with the unions some concessions in regards to the next contract, it’s viable. If not, we’ll have to consider our options,” said County Board Chairman Phil Banaszek.

Dino Leone, the union representative with AFSCME says the nursing home workers deserve something, and says the county is over-stating the home’s financial state.

“I just know the overall financial situation with Hope Creek is a lot better than it was a year ago,” Leone said.

Late state payments have hurt the county-owned home. This month, the county board agreed to borrow $750,000 to help pay its bills.

The county’s general fund has also dwindled, almost half of what it was in 2007, from $10 million to just over $5 million today.

“We’ve gotten into the general fund for one thing or another, at this point in time. It’s a concern,” said Banaszek. “Revenue of 30 percent, expenses 48 percent. I’d like to see some catching up,” he said.

The county’s budget committee will meet later this month.

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