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A balanced budget

PRINCETON — Bureau County is holding its own financially, according to Fees and Salaries Committee Chairman Marshann Entwhistle.

At this week’s meeting of the Bureau County Board, the county board passed a balanced budget for the 2012-13 year. The new 80-page budget shows total estimated receipts for the general fund at $4,600,000. The new budget goes into effect on Dec. 1.

On Thursday, Entwhistle said there isn’t a big difference between the new budget and the current one. The county board tries to balance the budget each year, or to have a slight surplus at the end of the year.

The Fees and Salaries Committee tries to be very conservative when it projects estimated revenue for the year, Entwhistle said. The general fund’s primary source of revenue is property taxes; the general fund’s primary expense is salaries, pensions and benefits.

For a more detailed look at the county budget, residents will be able to find the budget on the Bureau County Clerk’s web page, Entwhistle added.

In other financial action at Tuesday’s meeting, the county board approved the 2012 tax levy at $5,142,000, to be paid in 2013. The property tax levy is expected to be down a bit next year, Entwhistle said.

After the meeting, Entwhistle said Bureau County is very fortunate to be holding its own financially, especially in light of the current economy. One of the best steps Bureau County has taken financially was the sale of the county-owned Prairie View Nursing Home in 2006. She said the nursing home was draining the county financially, and the sale of the home is what has saved the county.

In other business at Tuesday’s county board meeting, Building and Grounds Committee Chairman Kristi Warren gave an update on the $250,000 upgrade being done for the county’s public safety emergency radio system.

Warren reported Jim Shipp has volunteered to look for properties on which new communication towers can be placed. Hopefully, two or three new towers can be installed each year as needed. The new towers will be placed in areas where reception problems have occurred, such as in the Walnut and DePue areas.

Also, a basement space at the jail needs to be developed for charging batteries and storing the new radios, Warren said. The board approved a lighting/new receptacle upgrade for the space at a low bid cost of $1,457 from Elmore Electric.

The upgrade includes all new radios and new computer system for the correctional officers at the county jail and for the courthouse security officers, as well as a new repeater, antennae and other equipment on the metal communication tower at the jail. The upgrade also includes approximately 21 mobile radios for the department’s vehicles, 21 portable radios for deputies, plus some additional spare radios. The upgrade needs to be completed by Jan. 1, 2013, in order to comply with new requirements of the Federal Communications Center.

The Buildings and Grounds Committee is working with consultant Jim Eatock, who completed a 171-page study of the public safety emergency radio systems for the county. The committee is following the consultant’s recommendations, Warren said.

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