|New board subcommittee to look at cost-cutting initiatives||| Print ||
A new ad hoc DuPage County Board committee is looking into options for stretching the public dollar.
Chairing the group is John Zediker, the Naperville board member elected in November as one of three District 5 representatives. He said he realizes the county, which often touts its fiscal vitality, might not appear to need a special panel to devise new cost-cutting strategies. But the finance initiative subcommittee — which county auditor Bob Grogan has called “the junk drawer of committees” — is expected to serve an important function.
“We’ve cut the budget by $30 million, we’re doing OK, so why are we doing this?” Zediker said at the committee’s inaugural meeting Tuesday morning.
It’s the unknowns that sit beyond the county’s control, he said, that present potential challenges.
“If the sales tax (income) stays strong, we might be able to do some things,” subcommittee member Don Puchalski said.
In addition, funding for the surface transportation bill is up for renewal this year, and its fate is uncertain. The state’s $15 billion budget shortfall also is a concern, although county CFO Fred Backfield said Springfield currently is catching up on overdue payments to the county.
On the other hand, last week’s rejection by a state appellate court of Gov. Pat Quinn’s $31 billion capital projects bill could hinder job growth in the county.
“It’s not all unicorns and rainbows,” Backfield said. “We need to look at that.”
The subcommittee also will look at a fully self-funded health insurance program for the county’s employees, and investigate the possibility of offering incentive bonuses, along with other spending efficiencies. Although they have been spared the mandatory furloughs other workers have faced, no raises have been given to staff members under the board’s authority.