Kankakee County faces challenging financial figures
In a regularly scheduled morning meeting on Jan. 25, the Kankakee County board's finance committee came to confront the county’s overall fiscal scenario, acknowledging weak spots in the jurisdiction’s financial fabric during its session.
Kankakee County Republican Women relayed access to the recent session via a post on its Facebook page with a message for constituents to stay informed.
With no public comment offered or submitted prior to the meeting, board members were able to quickly address several agenda items, beginning with a summary of monthly claims from County Auditor Jake Lee’s office, insurance and HR matters -- particularly staffing levels.
County Treasurer Nick Africano and the finance department’s Steve McCarty presented reports and led discussion, with McCarty offering a cash flow update and comment on inter-fund borrowing.
The committee appeared to work together efficiently, effortlessly approving a motion to combine and approve financial reports by voice vote, for example. Officials mentioned working on a backlog in some areas.
McCarty briefed the room on current finance department news, saying the county was still assessing documents from 2014 and 2015. He broached figures dating back to fiscal year 2013 and noted Kankakee County’s recent sales tax trends, explaining that the county had experienced sales tax revenue dropping faster than its expenses — hence contributing to lowered cash flow.
One participant called attention to a dramatic drop in one sector, stating that in fiscal year 2013, the county had approximately $10.6 million in revenue.
“Now, we’re looking at roughly half of that,” the questioner said. “That’s the other side of the revenue decline ... in the recent past, and it’s been a steep decline. Hopefully, that’ll better explain some of our issues with cash flow.”
Other portions of the discussion centered on statements and receipts spanning a more recent time frame, from Dec. 28, 2016 to Jan. 24.
Despite dire straits, county financial leaders moderated what appeared to be an upbeat meeting while articulating information and numbers for the public, stating that as of the day before the meeting, its cash holdings were approximately $3.1 million.
“So (while) that will feel like a nice number at this point … the one thing we have to balance from here out is (to) keep at or above a $3 million cash balance to make it through March,” McCarty said. “That’s the challenge now.”
The sheriff’s department conveyed information about a preliminary fee study of civil process and jail fees, followed by an executive session regarding collective bargaining and real estate investment. After the session, Sheriff Mike Downey made the meeting available to all constituents.
“As your sheriff, I think it is extremely important for you to be able to see, firsthand, what takes place in these meetings,” Downey said as he shared the video on the day of the meeting. “Although (meetings) are open to the public, they are held during the day, a time in which most simply cannot attend. It's important to know what is going on in the Sheriff's Office and public safety throughout Kankakee County -- and I want to keep you, the public, informed.”
Kankakee County Republican Women followed through by posting a link to the entire meeting on its Facebook page. Downey had originally posted the video recording of the meeting; it was subsequently shared by KCRW.
“The video is the Kankakee County board's finance committee (meeting) that was held Jan. 25,” the Kankakee County Republican Women organization said on its Facebook page following the 47-minute meeting. “Please take time to watch. The board wants to keep the public informed about our county's financial situation.”
To view the meeting, residents can go to YouTube.