WHEATON – Despite what he called a "disgraceful lag" on payments from the state and a second year without a budget in Springfield, DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin announced a budget proposal that included a flat property tax and $10.6 million in cuts.
The $433.8 million proposal, given Sept. 13 to the county board, represents a sixth straight year without a property tax increase since Cronin took the seat in 2010, staying at $66.9 million.
Cronin said his budget keeps essential county services intact while still facing the reality of decreased resources.
"Here in DuPage, we are a non-home rule county with limited government and limited ability to raise taxes, focused on spending less and putting more money in our residents' pockets," he said. "And you know? We're just fine with that."
Cronin said the county has long succeeded in cutting back waste and increasing transparency under his watch, "despite what's called the 'Illinois Effect,'" or the drawbacks of conducting business and government in the state.
He praised the rollback of the quarter-cent sales tax allocated to the Water Commission and elimination of the Century Hill Lighting District earlier this year as successes, promising further consolidation in talks to combine the DuPage Election Commission and County Clerk's Office.
"Accountability, consolidation and transparency efforts have changed the culture and conversation in DuPage government, and are slowly influencing the thinking in our region and state," he said.
The budget allocates $53.5 million for capital projects and a few new initiatives, including $50,000 for the Clean and Lien program, aimed at improving the county's unincorporated areas by buying, repairing or demolishing neglected or dangerous buildings, then selling the property to sustain the program.
Cronin said the seed money may eventually be the start of a revenue-generating part of the budget.
The budget also plans on a new Criminal Justice Information System, which will create a shared records management system for law enforcement, the state's attorney's office, the courts and jail to follow cases from arrests on.
In addition, Cronin suggests the county continue spending $100,000 this year to combat heroin use. So far in 2016, 35 people have already died of heroin overdose.
The budget total includes continued funding for education and an effort to double the number of RxBox locations across the county to give residents options to dispose their medications.
The Chairman said the budget is a work of compromise across county departments not found in Springfield or Washington D.C.
"In DuPage we still serve our residents," he said. "Each day we turn on the lights, we enter into contracts, we operate government and face, head-on, our challenges. Each day we provide value and excel on behalf of the taxpayers."
The county's finance committee will now review the budget with a final vote expected before the statutory Dec. 1 deadline. To read the budget proposal, visit dupageco.org/finance.