ROCK ISLAND, Illinois - The County’s administrator now says almost one and a half million dollars still needs to be cut from Rock Island County operations. Wednesday, November 16, 2016 was the first time we've heard just how deep those cuts might be. The county is worried deep cuts could create new problems rather than just solving old ones.
Rock Island County says the numbers are bleak and its money problems won't be fixed anytime soon.
“We’ve been cutting and cutting and cutting for as long as I’ve been here," says County Administrator, Dave Ross.
Mix projected budget deficits with last week's defeated sales tax referendum and you've got plans to cut a million and a half dollars from a dozen county agencies. The hardest hit is the Sheriff's department where more than $700,000 expected to be cut.
“That’s not a very desirable way to do planning because you're placing the well being of people you rely on, on the line,” says Committee Member, Kai Swanson.
The county says it's not just a simple job of cutting budgets. With every dollar taken away there could be a risk to citizens and liabilities for the county.
“Because the budget is structurally unsound you may be dealing with liability threats moving forward,” added Swanson.
Time is not in the County's favor, either. The County says the first layoffs may impact workers just after the first of the year.
This committee's recommendation and the full board's approval must be made soon. Even after that, Rock Island County's money problems won't vanish with the start of a new year.
“We got a clunker on our hands and we are going to be meeting every couple of months just to keep it running,” says Swanson.
The county will also fund its operations with more borrowed money. During the November 15, 2016 County board meeting, members agreed to borrow up to 5 million to keep paying its bills.