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DuPage County in strong financial position for 2014

Published: Thursday, March 20, 2014 1:25 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, March 20, 2014 1:41 a.m. CDT

DuPage County performed well financially in fiscal year 2013 and is on pace to continue in the black, according to a budget presentation given at the March 11 County Board meeting.

In 2013, the general fund yielded more revenue and lower expenses than anticipated, outgoing Chief Financial Officer Fred Backfield said.

“In a nutshell, the county has enjoyed back-to-back good years of general fund financial performance and is poised for a third consecutive year,” he said.

The general fund saw growth in its three main sources of revenue in 2013. Sales taxes, income tax receipts from the state and real estate purchases all eclipsed 2012 numbers, bringing in more than $103 million of the county’s $171 million in revenue.

These are good signs for the county’s residents and government, Backfield said. The sales tax and real estate numbers are especially encouraging, he said. During the past three years, sales tax receipt growth has averaged 5.5 percent, compared to the usual 4 percent.

Revenues are up more than $4 million and expenses have increased about $600,000 compared to the previous year, according to the presentation. Those trends have remained consistent so far in 2014, Backfield said.

However, revenue from the Circuit Court Clerk decreased $2.1 million in 2013 from 2012, largely because of a four-year downward trend in traffic violations, he said.

Incoming CFO Paul Rayfeck echoed his predecessor, saying DuPage County is strong and healthy, but also identifying several short term pressures.

Inflation, salary pressure – 71 percent of expenditures were for personnel in 2013 – benefits and capital needs could affect the county’s future financial performance. Additional turmoil in Springfield, particularly as debate over the constitutionality of pension reform and the 2015 expiration of the 5 percent income tax rate continue, are also important to consider, he said.

In the long term, another economic downturn could also put the fund balance in jeopardy, Rayfeck said. Growth in the three main revenue drivers made up 60 percent of the fund, and the real estate market or sales taxes could take a dive again.

“Those things are very, very critical, and we are very dependent on the economy for our continued growth,” he said.

Demographics will also play a major role in the future of the county’s fiscal situation.

“The county will continue to age, will continue to diversify and those things will impact how those changes occur,” Rayfeck said. “And what those changes are will impact the demand for our services and our revenue streams.”

He stressed vigilance controlling expenses and diversifying revenue streams in the future.

Board member Brian Krajewski said he believed county municipalities needed to put more focus on attracting and fostering businesses to drive local economic growth.

“I know we’re doing a very good job, but we have a lot of partners underneath us,” he said. “Some of them are doing a very good job in attracting. Other ones, I think, could use some help in bringing businesses here.”

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By the numbers

2013 expenses: $166.5M 2013 revenues: $170.8M 2014 expense projection: $173.6M 2014 revenue projection: $173.6M

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Revenue sources

• Sales tax: Grew $4.5 million, $87.3 million total • Income tax: Grew $800,000, $9.8 million total • Recorder income (real estate) – Grew $1 million, $6.2 million total

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Sales tax receipts – 5.5 percent growth

2012: $82.8 million 2013 original projection: $84.7 million 2013 final projection: $86.5 million 2013 final: $87.3 million

Property taxes – about 1.1 percent decline

2012: $27.8 million 2013 original projection: $28.9 million 2013 final projection: $28.9 million 2013 final: $27.5 million

State income tax – 9.1 percent growth

2012: $8.9 million 2013 original projection: $8.5 million 2013 final projection: $9.7 million 2013 final: $9.8 million

Elected officials – 5 percent decline

2012: $30.9 million 2013 original projection: $30.3 million 2013 final projection: $28.7 million 2013 final: $30.4 million

Other – about 3.7 percent decline

2012: $16.4 million 2013 original projection: $16.4 million 2013 final projection: $16.1 million 2013 final: $15.8 million

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