Rock Island County limited by revenue options to shore up budget deficit

Sales tax proposal won't be brought back until 2018 at the earliest

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. - Rock Island County plugs along with a lean budget, overworked employees and a county administrator working through problems he inherited and didn't create.

County Administrator Dave Ross' primary plan to dig the county out of a hole was soundly rejected when voters decided against the public safety sales tax in November.

A few weeks ago, County Board Members Kai Swanson and Bob Westpfahl came on 4 the Record in agreement that the county needs to come up with a way to get more revenue.

Dave Ross discussed that further during an appearance on 4 the Record.

Ross says there aren't too many revenue options. He says the county has done well to renegotiate a lot of contracts with vendors and union employees to cut costs. But, those gains don't make the kind of a dent that Rock Island County needs.

Ross says the sales tax issue might need to be revisited, but says the earliest that could happen would be 2018.

There are services the county provides for local municipalities. The county could charge those governments more.

Ross says those are possible, but also don't yield the kind of results the county needs.

He also points to operations like putting on elections that all governments utilize. However, it comes at the expense of the county with no help from cities or other government entities.

Then, there's the biggest evil of them all -- property taxes.

They're already high for homeowners in Rock Island County from all the different governments that are able to assess taxes.

Ross says Rock Island County is already maxed out on how much it can assess based on state law.

Rock Island County doesn't have much freedom when it comes to revenues.

New businesses could help some of that by contributing more to the tax base, but big developments haven't been flowing into Rock Island County at the pace needed to eliminate its financial problems.


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