A record unemployment rate of 14.7 % in April, and an estimated $5.3 million loss of sales tax revenue from last year are some effects DuPage County is seeing from the COVID-19 pandemic. Chairman Dan Cronin presented DuPage County’s 2021 balanced budget at the most recent board meeting. The fiscal budget comes in at $479.7 million, and the General Revenue Fund saw about a 3% reduction from last year at $177.9 million.
How They Balanced The Budget?
Moves like deferring new vehicle purchases, asking employees to suspend selling back vacation time, and not increasing employees cost-of-living all helped the county balance its budget and keep the property tax rate flat.
But the biggest help has been the $161 million the county received from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act.
“We are utilizing that money and is being directed to worthy causes,” said DuPage County Chairman Dan Cronin. “ We’ll make sure every dime of that is disseminated.”
The county has and will use CARES Act funds to help the county’s health department, businesses and nonprofits, municipalities, park districts, the clerk’s office, and more.
Top Two Priorities
Cronin said the top two priorities for the budget are public health and public safety.
The county has already set up a COVID testing site, and will use funds for contact tracing, and to help produce a mass vaccination.
Crime rates have been up in the county and in an effort to help combat that, DuPage is creating special crime units, as well as working with the State’s Attorney Office to prosecute criminals.
“We’re not brining in new people to head these units,” said Cronin. “We’re taking the talented people that we have in State’s Attorney’s Office and we’re promoting from within, and we’re assigning them to these units. And yeah, they should get a pay raise and they’ll have the resources in these units to fight these more complex and more heinous crimes.”
The DuPage County Sheriff’s office will also partner with the DuPage County NAACP, Unity Partnership, and the College of DuPage to help with police training.
Understanding the hardships community members are going through, the county will not layoff or furlough county employees and the average homeowner’s tax rate will remain the same in fiscal year 2021.
The board will consider the budget until its expected vote on November 24. The 2021 fiscal year begins on December 1.
Naperville News 17’s Christian Canizal reports.
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