We received some questions regarding the Lake County sales tax and the impact it has had on the County’s finances. With help obtaining the raw data from a member of LFC, we did compile the following schedules from statistics provided by the Lake County Budget Directory.
We compared the revenue and expenditures for the calendar years 2018 versus 2010.
Here is the schedule detailing the annual revenue by source:
Lake County Revenue 2018 vs 2010
In 2013, the sales tax was increased and the inside millage on the property taxes was decreased by 1.1 mills. You can see that although property taxes were reduced $6.5 million, it was offset by an increase of $22.3 million in sales taxes. We are thankful for the reduction in property taxes. However, please remember that the 1.1 mills is still available to be used by the County Commissioners, and since it is ‘inside millage’ the taxpayers do not get to vote on any proposed increases. [Remember, what the government gives, the government can take back]
You will see that ‘Total Interest on Investments’ were $4.3 million for 2018. This is due to favorable interest rates and the fact that the county has over $285 million in cash and securities. Here is Lake County portfolio as of 9/30/18: Portfolio as of 9-30-18
The $4.3 million was instrumental in helping the County balance the budget. However, we would rather see any surplus cash be returned to the taxpayers, but that would be like shooting a ‘hole in one’, filling an inside straight, and the Browns winning the Super Bowl all in the same day.
We will be asking more questions of the Budget Director in order to get a better understanding of some of the numbers. The Other Financing Sources decrease raises a big flag for us.
Let’s take a look at the Lake County expenditures. Here is the schedule we compiled comparing 2018 versus 2010: Lake County Expenditures 2018 vs 2010
When looking at these figures it is easy to not get the entire picture of expenditures by a particular department. For example, it appears that the Prosecutor’s office budget is ‘only’ $3.8 million. However, we know that it is over $9.0 million for CY 2019.
Here is the Prosecutor’s detailed budget: Prosecutor’s Budget 2019
Our schedule only shows the expenditures from the General Fund, and not other political sub-divisions, such as the Crime Lab. We will be meeting with the Prosecutor this coming week regarding the Crime Lab, and will report our findings.
When we looked at the Sheriff’s Department, we noticed a $912,000 increase in 2018 over 2010, but what was very revealing was the shift in who is paying for the Sheriff’s services. There is a drop in general fund expenditures (account 12501), but an offsetting increase in the Sheriff’s Road Patrol expenditures. It appears that the burden of paying for the patrols has shifted from the County to the individual townships that are using the services. Their total budget was $17.1 million and represents 26.54% of the budget.
The Coroner’s office is not feeling any love from the Commissioners……Their department has only had an increase of $3,322.69 (.72%) since 2010. We will have to look at the 2019 budget to see if they are given any funds to help with the demands of the opioid epidemic.
Congratulations to Ms. Becky Lynch, our County Recorder. for her management oversight and reducing the Recorder’s expenditures by over $231,000 in 2018.
The court system spent $13.5 million in 2018 and represents 20.94% of the budget!
If you add the Prosecutor’s, Sheriff’s and the Total Judicial System’s budgets it totals $34.4 million and represents 53.43% of the entire County General Fund! Ensuring that the residents of Lake County are safe is a mighty, expensive proposition.