Ogle County budget approved with cuts to health department

Taxpayers will see about a 2-cent decrease on property tax bills

A vehicle sits at the COVID-19 testing site Thursday outside the Ogle County Health Department in Rochelle.

OREGON – A request to not cut the Ogle County Health Department’s budget by $24,000 was disregarded, and the county’s 2023 budget was approved as presented Tuesday.

“As a health board, we won’t be able to function with a stipend decrease of $24,000,” health board Chairperson Carol Hoekstra told County Board members. “Last year, [the department’s budget] was $80,000; it’s down to $56,000.”

The $24,000 was moved to a contingency line item finance budget, according to minutes from the Oct. 12 Finance Committee budget meeting. The funds were moved to cover the cost of utilities, janitorial and other expenses incurred by the health department’s Rochelle location.

“The objective from the Finance Committee is [to] not give the health department funding from the General Fund,” according to the Oct. 12 minutes. “The Finance Committee has asked the health department to include rent in their grant applications.”

The matter of the health department paying rent was discussed at the Sept. 8 and 22 as well as Oct. 12 Finance Committee budget meetings.

According to the Sept. 8 minutes, Finance Committee Chairperson Greg Sparrow said “they have asked for rent from the health department for two years and have not [been] successful.”

Sparrow said his understanding is that when the health department was formed, it was meant to be self-sufficient after a one-time contribution from the county to assist with startup.

“We’re having a hard time at this time,” Hoekstra said. “We’re losing our administrator. We’ve been going through interviewing, having problems finding an appropriate and qualified administrator for this, as per the state of Illinois [requirements]. At this time, it makes it impossible to attract someone for the job with problems with the budget already.”

The contract of Ogle County Public Health Administrator Kyle Auman ends Nov. 30. He has resigned but is continuing to assist part time in signing documents required by the state until a replacement is found, Hoekstra said.

There are two ways to form a health department in Illinois, Sparrow said, according to the Sept. 8 minutes. The first is for a county to pass a resolution forming one; the second is to pass a referendum and levy a tax for a health department.

County Board members approved the fiscal 2023 budget 22-1; board member Thomas Smith voted no.

The property tax rate will be 71.2 cents per $100 equalized assessed value for fiscal 2023. The 2022 rate was 73.2 cents.

Ogle County’s EAV – one-third of the value of all the property in the county – rose to more than $1.85 billion. The Exelon nuclear power plant represents about one-third of that.

The 2023 property tax levy is $13,199,080. That’s an increase of $278,165 – or about 2% – over the amount levied in 2022. Appropriations to more than 80 funds total $59,953,808, which includes the almost $13.2 million property tax.

The county’s largest fund is the General Fund, to which the board appropriated $17,356,059. The revenue – which includes $5 million of property tax levy – is expected to match the appropriation, Sparrow said during the Oct. 25 county budget hearing.

Some of the other funds that will receive part of their revenue from property tax levy dollars include the County Highway Fund ($1.85 million); IMRF Fund ($1.4 million); Mental Health Fund ($1.03 million); County Bridge Fund ($925,000); Co-Operative Extension Fund ($140,000); Federal Aid Matching Fund ($925,000); Social Security Fund ($900,000); Insurance Premium Levy Fund ($575,000); Senior Social Services ($274,000); War Veterans Fund ($146,000); and TB Care and Treatment Fund ($34,080).

The budget can be viewed at https://bit.ly/3hPUKRm or by visiting OgleCounty.org, looking under the “County” tab along the top of the webpage and clicking on “Transparency.”

Alexa Zoellner

Alexa Zoellner

Alexa Zoellner covers Ogle County for the Oregon Republican Reporter, Forreston Journal, Mt. Morris Times and Polo Tri-County Press. She has six-plus years of experience in journalism and has won numerous awards.