County feeling effects of inflation


County revenues are up from budget expectations for the year, a trend Monroe County Treasurer Kevin Koenigstein described as a “double-edged sword.”   

At Monday’s meeting of the Monroe County Board of Commissioners, Koenigstein and deputy treasurer Elizabeth Smith-Thomas delivered its first quarterly report for the current fiscal year. 

Koenigstein said revenues for sales taxes collected in the county and income taxes collected statewide are higher than anticipated, although inflation and higher prices for fuel account for some of the excess.

“It cuts both ways,” Koenigstein said of the surplus county revenue.

For example, he explained one gallon of gas was around $3 per gallon at the time the FY22 budget was being prepared. With gas currently around $4.50 per gallon, the 50 percent increase in tax revenue for the county also means a 50 percent increase in overall cost of fuel for county consumers.

While higher costs at the pump translate to more money for the county, Monroe County Engineer Aaron Metzger clarified later in the meeting the increase does not carry over to the motor fuel tax fund. 

Metzger explained the disbursement formula for the MFT provides a flat rate per gallon regardless of the fluctuating price of oil.

Koenigstein said other sales tax receipts are higher as well, likely the result of inflation and higher prices across the board.

He noted Monroe County’s portion of income taxes collected throughout Illinois is the result of workers earning higher wages. However, even with an increase in take-home pay consumer purchasing power is diminished by increased retail and food costs.

Another area experiencing an increase is income from video gambling throughout the county. Koenigstein said the revenue was up significantly over the past six months, adding the change is emphasized further by the fact video gambling had been shut down for a time over the past two years due to COVID-19. 

As far as expenditures, Koenigstein said Monroe County is “right on budget at 25 percent,” but cautioned there are “a lot of things coming due.”

“I will say we may come very close to spending the full $9.7 million budget,” he continued. “That doesn’t mean we’re overspending, it’s more of an inflationary issue.”

There was no update during the meeting on when to expect property tax assessment information, which accounts for roughly 30 percent of the county’s annual operating budget.

Monroe County Assessor Carl Wuertz Wednesday said assessments should be ready for publication April 13.

Last year’s assessments were published in the March 17 issue of the Republic-Times.

Metzger was next on the agenda, with commissioners approving bids for oil-based asphalt materials to be used by the highway department and road districts. 

He said there was “concern” about the rising prices, but the bids submitted were “close” to budgeted estimates. 

Metzger added the bids were let the day after it was announced the United States would no longer import oil from Russia in response to its ongoing military action in Ukraine.

While prices for the material and storage were up from last year, Metzger said the increase had been anticipated.

Another county entity researching inflation is the Oak Hill senior living and rehabilitation center in Waterloo.

Oak Hill Administrator Shari Kruep told commissioners the facility was looking into ways to control expected supply cost increases. 

She also said staffing continues to be an issue, adding it is an issue throughout the senior care industry.  

Kruep’s report was mostly one of optimism for 2022, though. She said Oak Hill is looking forward to “rebounding in 2022.”

The census numbers were below budget through 2021 due to COVID-19 and another round of the virus made its way through Oak Hill late last year into early February, but Kruep told commissioners she expects to be at the budgeted census level by mid-April.  

Earlier in the meeting, the board officially voted on a resolution appointing Kruep as Oak Hill administrator through the end of the current fiscal year.

At the end of the meeting, Monroe County Clerk Jonathan McLean urged commissioners to carefully examine a revised code of county ordinances for adoption.

He explained the code had not been officially updated since about 2006. 

Commissioner Dennis Knobloch recommended placing the updated code on the agenda for the April 18 meeting in order to give the board ample time to review the large document.

In other action, the board voted to reappoint Jane McCarthy to the Monroe County Nursing Home Memorial Endowment Association.

The board also approved the recommendation of hiring Mark Cowell as Monroe County Electrical Inspector.

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