At Peoria County's State of the County Address last month, we unveiled our 2014 adopted budget report that demonstrates the County's continued stewardship of taxpayer dollars. On November 21, 2013, the County Board approved an FY2014 budget of $128 million that includes operating and capital expenses as well as debt service and fund transfers. This year's budget is just 0.5 percent over last year's adopted budget, a remarkable feat considering a one-percent decline in EAV (equalized assessed valuation) and a flat property tax rate of .805.
By maintaining our lowest tax rate in a decade, the County reduces its reliance on property taxes, which account for 21 percent of the $123.3 million in total revenues for 2014. Additional revenue sources include charges for services and intergovernmental revenues that, when combined, constitute 66 percent of the County's income this year. These revenue sources are expected to experience slight growth based on historical trend analysis and current economic conditions and forecasts.
On the expenditure side, Peoria County's public services fall into seven core functions: education, community development, judicial, highway, general governmental services, health and welfare, and public safety. These last two account for more than half of the FY2014 adopted budget of $128 million, which includes $107.4 million for operations, $10.7 million for capital improvements, and $7.6 million in debt service for projects like Heddington Oaks and the Peoria Riverfront Museum. The remaining $8.1 million in fund transfers has a $0 net impact as both revenues and expenditures are equal.
To maintain our role as the region's best value in local government by maximizing service delivery while minimizing the financial impact on the community we serve, the County Board adheres to the following conservative financial policies:
- Maintaining fund balances that cover the maximum difference between expenses and revenues, and a percentage of expenses
- Pay-as-you-go philosophy that requires current expenses be paid with current revenues
- Efforts to plan for capital expenses
- Diversified sources of revenue and, where possible, user fees set at 100 percent the cost of providing service.
Using these policies as a guide, the County develops its annual budget in accordance with strategic planning initiatives that provide for a successful and productive community. The County Board makes policy decisions and allocates resources based on the strategic plan in order to achieve our vision for the future:
Peoria County 2025 is a collection of livable, sustainable communities, with a strong, growing economy and connectivity within the region and to the world, providing opportunity for all its residents. Cooperative local governments provide efficient and effective services, and are responsive to residents and to community needs.
The FY2014 adopted budget is a product of the high-performing public organization that is Peoria County. Credit is due my colleagues on the County Board and the leadership of the county administrator, elected officials, and department supervisors for developing a budget that conserves taxpayer dollars while continuing to meet the board's objectives and deliver high-quality public services. iBi