free hit counter code Kane County eyes change in budgeting process –

Kane County eyes change in budgeting process

Kane County will not have enough revenue to support its expected expenses in the next fiscal year, the county’s finance director says, so she is asking the Kane County Board Finance Committee to decide how to make up the difference early in the budgeting process.

Over the past several years, Kane County has been unable to balance its main operating account, called the general fund, without cutting costs or leaning on cash reserves, according to Kane County Finance Director Kathleen Hopkinson.

The issue has previously been pushed to the end of the budgeting process, but this year she will ask the Finance Committee to make the decision on how to balance the budget early.

“We already know we don’t have enough money in our general fund for our 2025 budget,” she said. “If the county board can give this guidance up front, then the departments can incorporate that as they put their budgets together.”

Only about 4% of a Kane County resident’s tax bill goes to the county itself, with the rest going to other local governments like school boards, municipalities, townships and more, according to Hopkinson.

Even as expenses like salaries and contractual services continue to rise, she said the county has not raised property taxes in 14 years, which she said has contributed to the revenue problem it is currently facing.

“The tax rate, what you pay for Kane County services, has been going down for over a decade because we’re not collecting any more money. We’re just spreading it amongst more people and companies,” Hopkinson said.

At the Feb. 8 Kane County Board Committee of the Whole meeting, District 5 board member Bill Lenert suggested that the Finance Department could estimate how much revenue the county will receive in the 2025 fiscal year then share those projections with the county’s offices and departments to help shape their budgets.

“Instead of us trying to find money after they convince us of their needs, we’re letting them know, ‘We don’t really have the money that would satisfy all your needs and wants,’” he said.

Kane County Board Chair Corinne Pierog called Lenert’s suggestion a “solid idea” and added that a report should be given to the board members showing which funds were required to be spent by law and which were flexible.

According to Hopkinson, almost everything done by the county is required by a state statute or a county code.

The county board’s Finance Committee is expected to give guidance to the county’s departments and offices on how the county board plans to balance the budget at its next meeting on Feb. 28, Hopkinson said.

At that meeting, the committee will consider another change to the budgeting process – setting budget goals before requesting funds.

Under the proposed change, which Hopkinson presented at the Committee of the Whole meeting, Kane County offices and departments would set a mission and various goals at the start of the budgeting process instead of simply requesting funds from the county board. Then, the requested funds could be linked to an objective of the department or office.

Hopkinson said she hopes this change will increase communication between the departments and their associated county committees, plus make the departments think differently about how they request funds.

“The people who work in these offices and departments are working hard every day,” she said. “If as a part of the budgeting process they can take pen to paper and write down what they’re doing and what is the end result of why they’re doing everything that they’re doing, it’ll go a long way in helping the board understand everything that’s going on.”

Before the budget process can be changed, the proposal must first go to the Finance Committee, then the Executive Committee and finally pass a vote by the Kane County Board.

In prior years, county departments and offices would present their requested funds to their associated county committee, and those requests would get folded into the final budget, according to Hopkinson. She said the goals and missions of a department or office would be created after the budget was already approved by the county board.

With the proposed change, Hopkinson said she also hopes to shift goals from “outputs” to “outcomes.” She defined outputs as simple metrics but outcomes as broad goals that can be tracked and may reveal new ways of accomplishing what the department or office actually wants to do.

For example, she said an output could be “amount of traffic tickets issued” while a related outcome could be “safer streets with less traffic accidents.” While the traffic ticket output is very specific, the “safer streets” outcome could include issuing a certain number of traffic tickets and potentially lead law enforcement into other ways of making streets safer, such as the strategic placement of officers at problem areas or the improvement of road signage.

“It doesn’t have to be perfect this first year,” Hopkinson said. “A lot of what has been tracked, there are some outcomes, but it’s more outputs, and I think if over time we can talk about outcomes, it’ll be a better form of communication.”


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