County expects to meet budget numbers

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Monroe County Treasurer Kevin Koenigstein told county commissioners Monday that despite ongoing COVID-19 issues, he expects budgeted revenues and expenses to balance closely for fiscal year 2020, which ends Nov. 30.

He noted sales taxes are down substantially due to COVID-19, but other combined fees and revenues are running about where they were predicted when this year’s budget was set in 2019.

Koenigstein said the first installment of this year’s property taxes are due Sept. 25, with the second installment coming due Nov. 6. Property tax revenues this year are expected to total $62,949,817.62, an increase of 3.6 percent over last year’s total of $60,761,609.72. 

He said about 40 percent of the total due had come in by Monday and he expected about 60 percent by Friday, noting some people are simply paying the total amount due in one installment.

Citizens may pay their taxes by mail or in person at the Monroe County Courthouse, observing social distancing and mask requirements.

As previously reported, people who are unable to pay their first installment by Sept. 25 will not be charged interest for the following 42 days if they pay the total due by Nov. 6.  But interest will start if they do not pay by then.  

Oak Hill Senior Living and Rehabilitation Center in Waterloo, a county-run facility, reported 11 residents and one staff member recently tested positive for COVID-19, commissioners were told. The residents have been quarantined in rooms previously designated for such use in Arbor Court. 

As of Monday, only a couple of the positive residents had shown minor symptoms. 

Monroe County Ambulance Service Director Karla Heise received approval to apply for state funding under the Ground Emergency Medical Transportation program for the coming year.  The program, run by the Illinois Healthcare and Family Services Department, partly reimburses ambulance services for the difference between actual costs and what Medicaid pays. This will be the second year for Monroe County’s application, but Heise said she was unsure of results for the first year because no reimbursement has been received yet.

Monroe County Health Department Administrator John Wagner updated commissioners on COVID-19 matters, noting Monroe County’s test positivity rate is at 6.4 percent.  

He said his department and schools are continuing to discuss the balance between risks and rewards for students in traditional classroom teaching situations – with appropriate precautions. 

“Some children simply do not do well in remote learning circumstances and perform better surrounded by other students and teachers,” he said.  

Wagner said he is considering possible plans for vaccine administration, but they are still preliminary and will depend on quantities of vaccines available and their timing.

The Monroe County Board will meet next on Monday, Oct. 5 at 8:15 a.m. An agenda will be available at monroecountyil.gov.

Budget hearings for fiscal year 2021, which begins Dec. 1, will be conducted in the same place that afternoon.

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