MASSAC COUNTY, IL (KFVS) - A southern Illinois highway department could be forced to lay off two-thirds of its employees unless state legislators vote to release motor fuel tax funds.
December marks the sixth month Illinois has operated without a budget. The Illinois House voted on Wednesday to release $1.9 billion in motor fuel funds but the bill still needs to clear the Senate until funds can be released. The Senate returns to session December 7.
Those funds have already been collected, but are not being release by the state due to the budget impasse.
Engineer Joe Matesevac of the Massac County Highway Department said the county board approved a plan that would temporarily layoff eight full time employees beginning January 1 if state legislators take no action in releasing motor fuel funds.
"For the past five and a half we've been operating largely on our reserve cash funds and now they're starting to run out," Matesevac said. "This is by far the most serious financial situation we've had to deal with."
He said seventy-five-percent of the highway department budget relies on motor fuel tax funds. The county department employs five truck drivers, five operators and an engineer, Matesevac said.
Massac County covers 370 miles of county and township roads and conducts maintenance on bridges, culverts, mows, grass, and plows snow.
"This is pretty much going to kill us for the time being," Matesevac said. "We're still hopeful that within this next month that they can do something."
Those employees would work one day a week to maintain their employment status with the county and in case a road emergency occurred such as heavy snow.
However, Matesevac said the county highway department will do its best to maintain safe roads but will be severely limited if no action is taken soon.