Many county programs facing layoffs due to IL budget battle - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Many county programs facing layoffs due to IL budget battle


Illinois' budget battle is affecting many county programs, including those in southern Illinois.

The City of Herrin has enough funds to last the rest of September and possibly through October, according to Mayor Steve Frattini. After that, he said they will be "pinned against the wall."

This includes police departments, fire departments, etc.

"Those are the funds that we count on being here and they're not," Mayor Frattini said.

Road projects in Herrin are on hold, along with annual maintenance programs. The mayor said they are having to reduce projects, which means patching streets instead of repaving.

Mayor Frattini said Herrin does not have any money on reserve. He said the city does have a revenue stream, but not enough.

He has not made any layoffs and said that would be the last consideration. However, the city is not making any new hires as people leave or retire in the public works department.

Marion Mayor Bob Butler said the city hasn't had to dip into their reserve yet, but the reserve is only for three months of regular operations.

"We can manage for a while," he said. "But of course we'd be using money that we could use elsewhere. This is a dire situation."

Mayor Butler said he hopes that legislators and the governor will compromise.

"They're hurting ultimately all of the people of the state of Illinois," Mayor Butler said.

Illinois is the laughing stock of the country, he continued.

"Sooner or later, all of the wheels are going to come off the cart," Mayor Butler said. "And they're wobbling pretty bad right now."

On Aug. 25, Union County Highway Engineer Kevin Grammer and Johnson County Highway Engineer Steve Kelley joined representatives of Chicago and Macomb in Springfield to address the Illinois House of Representatives' Committee of the Whole on the impact this will have on local agencies and residents.

"With 70 percent of the transportation system in Illinois being locally maintained, delays in MFT payments will rapidly impact the average Illinoisan," Grammer said. "Many local agencies are reducing and eliminating pavement maintenance. Salt purchases for winter weather are also being reduced or eliminated. This is the time of year for a lot of construction projects that are now being delayed or canceled. No matter where you live, if you are using locally maintained roads you are going to be hit by this."

Grammer has not yet had to lay off any employees buy said many agencies have and it's only a matter of time before Union County has to follow suit.

"MFT funds and property taxes fund our day-to-day operations. Our tax levy can cover the cost of some of our personnel but obviously not all of them," explained Grammer.

The tax works in that for every gallon of fuel bought in Illinois, between 19 cents and 21.5 cents is collected by vendors and sent to the state. From there, the Illinois Department of Transportation distributes those funds out to local agencies such as the Union County Highway Department.

However, those distributions aren't made with the state budget up in the air.

"Without a budget in place, we haven't received our allotment since July 21," Grammer said. "We've also been told by the Illinois Association of County Engineers that Needy County, Consolidated County and Township Bridge Program payments will also be held until the budget is resolved."

Grammer urges anyone concerned about local transportation funding to contact their legislators and encourage them to support restoring funding immediately.

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