This fall, Rock Island County will have two tax proposals on the ballot. County Administrator Dave Ross presented to the Regional Opportunities Council and answered questions on July 28 regarding why he views a proposed ½ cent sales tax to be essential. Ross began by highlighting the many reforms Rock Island County has already made to become more effective while straightening-out the County’s budget and setting it on a fiscally responsible path. These include:
- Hired a County Administrator
- All employees, including collective bargaining agreements, eliminated a holiday and froze wages for two-years.
- County Board Members ended their pension and health care coverage.
- County Board voted to downsize from 25 to 15 members.
- Positions are being held open, and departments are operating under the minimum staffing standards.
- Layoffs totaling $1 million savings over the next five years.
- Adopted a County Board Member Code of Conduct.
- Adopted professional management policies including anti-nepotism, general reserve funds, and employee performance appraisals.
- Ended the management contract of Hope Creek, and will replace with a professional manager.
- The Board will be vote in August on a measure to downsize the number of Committees, and, hence, Board Member pay.
Despite the tremendous impact, Ross says additional revenue is still required. He said the County cannot do any additional cuts or lay-offs and still be able to perform its Constitutionally-required services. Without the additional revenue, Ross states essential public safety personnel will be laid-off, exposing the County to litigation for failing to perform its duties. Such a lawsuit could force the County to raise its property taxes over 20 percent in order to fund services and pay for the suit. If the sales tax is adopted, the County will be begin to build its reserves and should be able to implement a 12 percent property tax cut next year.
A two-page summary of Ross’ presentation to the ROC with additional information can be accessed here: /files/download/documents/Rock Island County Summary.pdf
Ross has also held a series of town hall meetings to help inform the public and answer questions regarding the County’s finances and is willing to speak with groups interested in learning more. Please stay tuned for information on the School Board’s sales-tax measure in future updates.