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Letter: County issues must be resolved

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

To the Editor:

Here is a short list of DeKalb County issues that need to be resolved immediately:

1. Our county’s property tax rate is 53rd highest in the country. Our county board approved a $77.3 million budget including another property tax hike, while home values continue decreasing. In a 14-10 vote, the county board also approved a $20.9 million property tax levy. The burden rests upon the county residents, while the county government continues to spend down its reserves by almost $900,000 each year. 

2. Our county jail has 89 beds, but in 2012 on the highest census day, there were 160 inmates, and 109 on the lowest. The result has been transporting inmates to neighboring counties. From 2004-12, the county spent $4.9 million to house inmates at other jails.

Expanding the county jail solves this, but we must be smart on allocating money to achieve it. Linked to the county jail expansion is the landfill expansion, where revenue collected from tipping fees will supposedly pay for the county jail expansion. However, the Daily Chronicle stated, expansion of the county landfill in Cortland is expected to take in about 2,000 tons of trash a day, from which the county will collect increased ‘tipping fees’.

This means it could be 2016 before crews could start building the addition to the jail, and the county needs a year’s worth of the ‘tipping fees’ on hand and approval from the county before selling bonds to fund the jail expansion project. Lack of foresight allowed this problem to burden county residents. With the current rate of growth in the inmate population, by the time the expansion is complete, it could already be at capacity.

3. The county’s current method of line-item incremental budgeting is a failure. My opponent, Samuel Bandy, is in favor of zero-based budgeting, and I must agree with him that it could solve the county’s budgeting issues. However, it will take many years to implement, and it is crucial to train managers at various levels for this budgeting.

Furthermore, compressing information down to a usable size can ease the overwhelming amount of data in a large organization but you could lose crucial information in the process as well. We can review the efficiency of each department and begin to identify core problems. This will start to put us on the road to recovery.

Craig J. Genteman

Republican county board candidate, District 9

DeKalb

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