Union County Commissioners
Lee, Stolte say 2013 should be a good year
Union County rang in 2013 to the sounds of a cash register's "ca-ching."
Sales tax revenues appear to be on the rebound and county coffers are looking as good as they have since the beginning of the Great Recession.
The success story has given the commissioners time to reflect on the year ahead.
"Well, we just passed a temporary budget for next year and in the first three months of this year we'll be working hard on a permanent budget," county commissioner Steve Stolte said.
The commission expects to receive a revenue report from County Auditor Andrea Weaver in early March and is mandated by the state to submit a final budget on or before March 31.
"The fiscal cliff turned out to be a gentle slope," Stolte said. "But there are still a lot of big question marks out there that will affect our budget. There is going to be a debate in a couple months (in Washington, D.C.) about the debt ceiling. And in the end of February we'll begin to see the impact of the spending cuts."
Depending on how the numbers come in during the first quarter of 2013, county employees may get a Christmas present in March.
"We'd very much like to build raises for our employees into the permanent budget," Stolte said. "We don't have raises built into the temporary budget."
At some point during 2013, it's likely the county will be focusing on justice. Lady Justice, that is.
"We'll be doing maintenance and preservation work on the Court House to repair the damage from the Great Wind Storm of June 29 (2012)," Stolte said.
The wind storm damaged the roof of the court house and ripped an arm off Lady Justice, depositing it in a nearby gutter.
"We'll have to take Lady Justice down from her perch in order to repair her," Stolte said.
The work is important because of the historic nature of the court house.
"It was built over the course of three years in the 1880s and has been in use for nearly 130 years," Stolte said. "Other counties have had to tear down their court houses and rebuild, which is something we want never to happen in Union County."
Commissioner Gary Lee said breaking ground on the long awaited $5.1 million Raymond-Peoria sewer project will be a very satisfying development in the New Year.
"Getting the project moving forward was a highlight of 2012 and breaking ground on it will be a highlight of 2013," said Lee.
"I wouldn't call it an albatross around our necks," he said. "But there were difficulties securing the funding and the project has been in the works for more than a decade. It'll be nice to see that come to fruition and for the residents of Raymond and Peoria to see an improvement in sanitation."