Lake County council takes first steps toward borrowing
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent November 13, 2012 5:30PM
Updated: December 15, 2012 6:25AM
CROWN POINT — The borrowing plan created to buy another year for officials to find a new revenue source and make the cuts necessary to put the county’s fiscal house in order was approved down party lines.
Tuesday the Lake County Council passed 4-2 the ordinances authorizing the sale of a $5 million short term note and $10 million bond to pay for an expected more than $13 million in operating costs and capital expenses above the approved 2013 budget and the first readings of the appropriations needed to get that money in circulation.
Councilmen Daniel Dernulc, R-Highland, and Rick Niemeyer, R-Lowell, voted against the plan.
Niemeyer said he understands the need for cuts and borrowing but he cannot support the plan because he disagrees with where some of the cuts have been made. Niemeyer opposes eliminating the bridge fund and drainage levy, which were cut along with the liability insurance fund in the first step of a five-point reduction plan that was to lead to the borrowing.
Council members approved the first step of the plan and enacted those cuts but failed to act on the other components of the plan, which included cutting parks funding and eliminating 13 patrol positions among other reduction measures.
“You have to agree with what the deductions are and where they are coming from,” Niemeyer said. He said he cannot agree with eliminating the bridge and drainage funding.
Dante Rondelli, the county’s financial planner, said the action taken by the council is the first step in the borrowing process and must continue with a plan for how that money will be spent and repaid or the county will find itself in the same situation or worse at the end of next year.
A committee has been established to decide where the borrowed money will go. Officials have said some of that money would be used for capital projects including bridge and drainage work. That committee must have its plan drafted by the end of the year so the appropriation can be finalized.
Officials also need to take into account that some of the $15 million, possibly up to $2 million, will have to be used to service the debt in 2013. Rondelli said officials will not know until after the bonds are sold what the cost will be.