$77 million financial plan will only get Rock Island County through next year

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ROCK ISLAND, Illinois - Rock Island County board members approved a new budget for the 2017 fiscal year. The new proposal has major cutbacks but some say it will only get them through next year.

Approving a budget is one of the many money problems the county is facing and Tuesday, November 29, 2016 budget approval doesn't put the county in the clear.

After weeks of trying to come up with a budget, Rock Island County board members have given the green light to a $77 million financial plan for next year.

Looming budget deficits and last month's defeated sales tax referendum were enough for board members to agree with their county administrator to cut $1.5 million in spending for next year.

“This is a crisis budget for the sheriff's budget now,” says Rock Island County Sheriff, Gerry Bustos.

The sheriff's department faces a big $700,000 cut. The sheriff says open positions won't be filled and he can't operate with any more cuts to his staff. Other county departments could see layoffs just after the first of the year.

“We’ve done what we can do to stabilize the county for at least the next year,” says Finance Chair, Richard Brunk.

Capital projects are also on hold for 2017. The jail and the county's 911 systems won't get upgrades.

“In those instances where we need major repairs we are just going to have to come back to the board and ask for new money,” added Sheriff Bustos.

The 2017 budget won't fix everything. With one budget finalized, another is around the corner.

“I don't feel like the weight is lifted. We will make it through FY17 but the big question on my mind is what we are going to be looking at going into FY18,” added Brunk.

Money has been moved over to the liability insurance fund in case anything drastic happens from the proposed cuts.  Board members didn't give the exact amount and say the money is an estimate.

Earlier this month the board also approved borrowing up to $5 million dollars against next year’s property tax income.

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