County Leaders Spotlight Key Priorities in 2022 Annual Budget
Final budget includes increased funding for public safety, Children’s Advocacy Center, mental health support, and transportation
County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant joined County Board leadership in highlighting accomplishments in the Fiscal Year 2022 Annual Budget, which invests in key priorities while maintaining balanced spending. The $793 million package, which was passed unanimously today by the County Board, increases funding for public safety agencies, the Children’s Advocacy Center, and the Will-Ride transportation program.
“I applaud the County Board for acting on a budget that increases critical services for our residents, while holding the line on taxes,” said County Executive Bertino-Tarrant. “This balanced budget represents months of hard work to ensure funding for agencies and services that will be key for county-wide economic growth.”
The budget provides $350,000 in funding for the United Way to develop Will County’s first unified 2-1-1 system. The system will provide a centralized call center to support residents seeking mental health support, joining a regional and statewide network of affiliates.
“Funding the 2-1-1 call center is an important change in how we respond to mental health challenges at a county level,” said Bertino-Tarrant. “This will serve as a timely resource for residents, connecting them with a comprehensive array of health and human services for personal and emotional support.”
“It’s important for us to recognize that mental health issues have increased during the pandemic. The 2-1-1 system will provide critical mental health support for residents and reduce the burden on our emergency call centers and social service agencies,” said County Board Speaker Mimi Cowan. “This is just one example of how this approved budget supports our most vulnerable residents.”
The total budget, a combination of $251.2 million in the corporate fund and $541.8 million in special funds, is balanced and continues the five-year trend of reducing the county’s property tax levy for residents. The sound budgeting principles allow the county to meet debt obligations and maintain a AA+ bond rating, with rating agencies commending the county for a diverse tax base, stable financial performance, and strong reserves and liquidity.
“The Finance Committee worked hard to provide sufficient funding to maintain existing staffing and programmatic levels, along with expanding our support for our shared top priorities,” said County Board Finance Chair Kenneth Harris. “The county has maximized its continued growth to make the most impact with a balanced budget and to reduce the tax burden on our residents.”
With increased demands on the county’s public safety agencies, the FY2022 budget allocates additional personnel funds to support operations within both the State’s Attorney’s and Public Defender’s offices. The Sheriff’s Office is also receiving more funding to hire additional deputies to support security at the Will County Courthouse.
“Public safety remains a top priority for county leadership and the FY2022 budget increases our level of support to those who keep us safe,” said Public Works & Transportation Chair Joe VanDuyne. “I’m proud that we went out of our way to find opportunities to make our residents safer and help our most vulnerable residents, including by providing more funding to the Will County Children’s Advocacy Center.”
Keeping an eye towards county-wide growth and expansion, the county continues to invest in infrastructure improvements. This includes a five-year capital plan that funds on-going and future projects, including the construction of the county’s Renewable Gas Facility and a new County Morgue.
“Continuing to prioritize our infrastructure network puts us on a path towards economic strength, while reducing congestion and increasing roadway safety,” said Bertino-Tarrant. “We are also working to ensure that infrastructure funding includes public transportation, providing funds for our Will-Ride program that coincides with a $200,000 grant from Pace Suburban Bus that will go towards a study identifying opportunities to expand the paratransit system.”
The budget will go into effect on December 1, 2021, the beginning of the county’s fiscal year.