Lake County Council passes 2013 budget, looks to borrow money
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent October 9, 2012 5:56PM
Updated: November 13, 2012 6:13AM
CROWN POINT — Lake County Council members approved a balanced budget for 2013 and moved to ask the Board of Commissioners to go forward with an up to $15 million borrowing package to bridge the gap between that budget and the county’s actual expected expenses.
Two councilmen opposed to the elimination of levies for the cumulative capital bridge fund and county surveyor’s office — Rick Niemeyer, R-Lowell, and Daniel Dernulc, R-Highland — voted against the budget. Surveyor George Van Til also spoke out against the levy cuts.
“I cannot support the $15 million bond issue. I’m not saying we don’t need it. I can’t agree with what is going on,” Niemeyer said. He said he does not agree with the council’s plan to replace the levies of both funds with bond money. The plan calls for bond funds for capital improvement projects to be allocated through a yet-to-be established application process before a bond committee.
Niemeyer said while he does not doubt the County Council will provide the bond money in 2013 for planned drainage and bridge projects, he is concerned what will happen in 2014 and beyond.
The pair say they are also concerned a lack of a levy will impede both departments from conducting preventative maintenance on the county’s bridges and drainage ditches that could cause larger problems down the road.
John Dull, Board of Commissioners attorney, said the $15 million borrowing package does take into consideration enough funds for 2013 projects for both drainage and bridges, but after that there is no guarantee. He acknowledged Niemeyer’s fear the levy would not be returned in 2014.
“I don’t see where that can come back except through borrowing,” Dull said.
Dull said the $15 million in borrowed money is one aspect of a report on funding provided by consultant Cender & Co. The plan calls for taking out a $5 million note with the balance funded by an up to $10 million general obligation bond with an interest rate about 4 to 5 percent to be paid by 2019. According to the report, the council also may need to consider selling assets in 2013.