Metropolis, IL

Opinion

EDITORIAL: Have you looked at the budget?

Thursday, February 16, 2017 - Updated: 11:04 AM
Halfway into the second month of the New Year and there has been some progress by Massac County’s commissioners.  We think that is great.
In January Eric Weflan, the engineer from the firm RQAW who put together the feasibility study on the courthouse came to the courthouse to discuss with all three board members about tuckpointing and the problematic roof.
By the end of that meeting, the commissioners seemed to be in agreement that they should let RQAW handle the bidding process for the project.  In 2014, the county board members oversaw the roof project and the public knows what a fiasco that ended up being, as the Planet has reported many times how months after the new roof was put on, there were still problems with water leakage.
If RQAW is handling the tuckpointing and roof project this time around, it will be out of the hands of the board and will be overseen by an engineer who is more familiar with these types of projects and who will work on behalf of the county commissioners to ensure that the job is done properly.  We all can agree if the county is going to spend a lot of money to renovate the building, we all want to see it done right the first time around.
Now the second step of progress is in the area of the 2017 budget.  The commissioners sent letters early to department heads requesting proposed budgets and during most of that time called very few budget meetings.  The board reorganized Dec. 1, and Commissioner Jerel Childers is now the chairman of the board. Since that reorganization, the board has met to prepare the proposed budget ready for public display.
At the Tuesday, Feb. 7 meeting, commissioners Weber and Childers approved a motion placing the budget on public display for two weeks.
The budget that has gotten the most discussion is that of the coroner.  For many years the coroner has always been affiliated with the local funeral home and the county has not had to budget for a tremendous amount of expenses related to that office.  But, now that the coroner is not affiliated with the funeral home, the expense budget is up from previous years.  The proposed budget was $90,050 but after a budget meeting the board made $38,600 worth of cuts dropping the total proposed budget to $51,453.
Now is the time for everyone to pay a visit to the Massac County Clerk’s office to actually look at the budget.  As much controversy as there was around election time regarding the county’s finances and the amount of sales tax the county receives, everyone should take the time to go and look at the budget.
For the county board to have the budget on display this early in the year is a huge improvement for the commissioners. Rewind to several years ago, the county board didn’t actually pass a budget until October.  The county’s budget year is on the calendar year, meaning it runs from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31.  Other governmental entities, such as the Metropolis City Council and Massac Unit One and Joppa-Maple Grove school districts, operate their budgets the same as the state with a July 1 starting date and a June 30 ending date.  
People need to become more involved and become more knowledgeable about the county government as well as the other governing bodies here in Massac County.  It is always surprising when we share a link to a story about the county on our Facebook page the number of people who automatically think that it refers to the city.  There is the city council and the county board of commissioners — two separate entities.
On the subject of becoming more knowledgeable, we should also point out that even though the November general election has come and gone, there will be another local municipal election on April 4. The people running for election will be Metropolis and Brookport alderman and mayoral candidates and in Joppa there will be people seeking election to the Village Hall and Village President.
There will be people seeking election to the Massac Unit One and Joppa-Maple Grove school boards. The biggest portion of property tax money goes to the school districts.  With the state budget in a shambles and funding for local school districts always seeming to be in jeopardy, it is extremely important to have school board members who will serve as good stewards to the taxpayers’ money.
Be watching future editions of the Planet for Ballot Box information about the candidates.
For those following our Facebook page, we’ll do a Facebook Live from a town hall meeting with mayoral candidates scheduled for Thursday, March 9 and again on March 10 as we do live interviews with candidates for alderman in the City of Metropolis.
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