The Monroe County Board of Commissioners held a special meeting Friday to pass the fiscal year 2013 budget.
The approved budget calls for approximately $6.6 million in receipts and $6.2 million in expenses, with a surplus of $465,000.
“The sale of the old nursing home lot is $350,000, which is most of the surplus. Also, the ambulance service lost $100,000, which may find its way back to general expenses in the years ahead,” Monroe County Treasurer Kevin Koenigstein explained.
The county estimates this year’s sales tax revenue will be the highest since before 2008.
“This illustrates the county’s business activity is growing,” Koenigstein said.
Likewise, the income tax came out to $883,000 in 2012 and is going to be about $971,000 this fiscal year.
Overall, the county’s tax levy amount increased by four percent over the last year, from $5,841,000 in 2012 to an estimated $6,073,851 for 2013.
“We are a PTELL county, limiting an increase in taxation to the rate of inflation at percent plus new growth, which I estimate to be one percent,” Koenigstein explained. “Last year, the rate of new growth was 1.38 percent.”
The dark horse on the budget, however, is the Monroe County Ambulance Service. The county will be giving the ambulance service a $140,000 advance, with the county giving the service a $90,000 advance last year. The county expects the ambulance service to have about a $2,085 ending cash balance.
“This measure illustrates the difficulty the ambulance service is having,” Koenigstein said.
“The ambulance service is a problem,” county commissioner Mike Kovarik added.
You can view a copy of the county’s 2013 budget online at www.RepublicTimes.net.Elected county officials were sworn in to new terms Monday morning at the courthouse by Judge Dennis Doyle. Pictured, from left, are Monroe County Board Chairman Delbert Wittenaur, Monroe County Coroner Vicki Koerber, Monroe County State’s Attorney Kris Reitz and Monroe County Circuit Clerk Sandy Sauget. (Teryn Schaefer photo)
The regular county board meeting on Monday was mostly about health care, including the ambulance service.
Commissioners gave the OK to raise Monroe County Ambulance Service rates by $200 per call to county residents. This is expected to raise ambulance service revenue by $70,000 next year.
“We are rasing the rates to fall in line with everyone else around here,” Monroe County Ambulance Service Director Carla Heise said.
Rates for non-residents or those residing outside of Monroe County who call in for the service will also raise an additional $200 per call.
Heise said the county used to have higher rates for those outside of the county who do not pay county taxes until about 15 years ago.
Since then, the number of those living outside Monroe County who use the service has risen. Heise said about 10 percent of their calls are non-residential.
The ambulance service expects to generate $15,000 more off non-resident calls with the increase. Heise says the majority of non-resident calls are for auto accidents.
“The goal of this is to move our ambulance service into the future,” Monroe County Board Chairman Delbert Wittenauer said.
The board also discussed with the Monroe County Health Department on Monday the possibility of opening an urgent care service for those on Medicaid.
Monroe County Health Department Administrator John Wagner informed the board that the Board of Health has agreed to look into the matter of bringing a clinic and an urgent care service on-site at the health department.
“The target is for those on Medicaid, but the bonus is that it would be an urgent care,” Wagner said.
Wagner added that, currently, anyone on Medicaid who needs urgent care has to go to the Southern Illinois Center for Health or to St. Clair County to receive treatment.
With a new proposed clinic and urgent care services, Wagner says people will be able to get stitches and x-rays on site. Those on private insurance would be referred back to a primary care physician for follow up. This way, it will not take away business from local doctors, Wagner said, especially because local physicians typically lose money on Medicaid patients.
Wagner says another benefit to an urgent care offering at the health department is that the ambulance service is right there in case a patient comes in with a condition more severe than an urgent care service can handle.
Wagner also noted that they have a physician in mind that they would like to work out a partnership with.
“I look at it as not to make money for the health department,” Wagner said, “but to provide a service for the people.”
The board also discussed the real estate tax cycle Monday.
Koenigstein said the county has collected 96 percent of tax distributions. The names of those who do not pay real estate taxes will be printed in the Dec. 26 edition of the Republic-Times. On Jan. 15, there will be a tax sale held at the courthouse.
In light of the 2013 budget and the county’s budget circumstances the past few years, the county announced it has received a AA- credit rating.
“Of counties our size, this is probably the best credit rating we can get,” Koenigstein explained, adding that in order for Monroe County to get a AA+ rating, it would have to grow to three times its size and be more diversified.
“When we look at refinancing the nursing home this year and next year, this rating will really help,” he said.
To view the Monroe County 2013 budget document, click below:
To view the Monroe County credit report, click below:
Monroe County Rationale 11-29-2012