Budget homework assigned to Piatt County Board Chairman Ray Spencer was duly completed and given a passing grade on Tuesday, as the finance committee approved another $100,000 in cuts to its tentative 2019-20 budget.

With revenue enhancements also being adjusted upwards, it leaves the budget about $387,000 short of being balanced, $115,000 better than a week ago and well under the $700,000 in red ink that was in the document when talks intensified three weeks ago.

“Is it a dream budget? No, but it's closer than it was,” said Spencer at the committee meeting. “Hopefully we can find some more income next year.”

A majority of the cuts came in the emergency management agency budget, with operations requests and salary scaled back to current year budget figures. That leaves EMA Director Mike Holmes' salary at $37,750 and the total EMA budget at about $57,000.

In addition, an assistant state's attorney position will be eliminated after originally being reduced to halftime, saving an additional $25,892; and a part-time janitorial position in the Piatt Count Office Building will be eliminated for a savings of $11,700. Maintenance supplies were also cut by $1,500.

As a result of the office building losing its janitor, Spencer said the attached nursing home will clean shared bathrooms (basement restrooms will be closed), but that the cleaning of individual offices will be left to those departments.

Maintenance Supervisor Doug Winder questioned why the PCOB was singled out in this way.

“So, this will be the only place in the county that will need to clean their own office?” he said. Spencer said that is the plan at this time.

The committee approved the new round of cuts 5-1, with Bob Murrell dissenting.

“My position hasn't changed from the previous eight meetings. I'm still not in favor of a deficit budget,” said Murrell.

“It's painful, but we had to do it, Mr. Chairman,” said Randy Shumard, who made the motion for the additional budget reductions.

The county board is scheduled to vote on a final budget on Nov. 13.

Staff reductions

At least nine full- and part-time positions in the county are eliminated or reduced in the budget that starts Dec. 1. A majority of those are in the sheriff's department, although they do not involve reducing the number of deputies patrolling the 429-square-mile county.

Sheriff's cutbacks will come in the form of laying off two master controllers (civilian workers at the county jail); and not replacing the openings of one part-time bailiff, one part-time master controller and two part-time dispatchers.

The office of the state's attorney is eliminating a secretarial position, the elimination of one of its two assistant state's attorneys, and State's Attorney Dana Rhoades said she would donate $5,000 of her salary back to the county. Assistant State's Attorney Elizabeth Dobson also volunteered to take furloughs during the year, resulting in another $5,000 in savings.

The latest cuts also eliminate a part-time janitor at the office building.

County officials say Corporate Property Replacement Tax revenue is exceeding expectations, which allowed them to slightly increase revenue in the budget.

The board is also expected to increase its real estate property tax levy about $400,000 from last year's total of $4.5 million that was extended. The 9.4 percent increase triggers a required Truth-In-Taxation hearing, which will be held at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13 in the county board room of the Piatt County Courthouse.