ANNA — Union County officials are trying to figure out what to do with a $600,000 shortfall in next year’s budget.

The deficit is caused, in part, by already approved contractual increases for some employees, according to Angie Coke, the county administrator. She said she and county treasurer Darren Bailey have been working on the proposed 2018 budget.

She, Bailey and Union County Commissioners plan to continue discussing the 2018 proposed budget at special meetings set for 2 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday at the County Courthouse in Anna. The meetings are open to the public. The county is looking at a $9.7 million spending plan for fiscal year 2018.

She said they would be looking for direction from commissioners as to whether they should look at ways to generate more revenue or cut expenses to make up the shortfall.

Over the past few years, she said the county typically runs at about a $200,000 deficit.

But, she said, “This year, we’re trying to see if we can implement changes that will be fundamentally restructuring” how the budget receives funds, she said.

“There is a reason we must overcome a $200,000 deficit every year,” part of the budget report reads. “The cuts made are only enough for a one-year balanced budget. Costs continue to increase at a rate greater than our stagnant economy.”

“Fundamental changes to our strategy and structure are necessary to ensure a prosperous future for this government and the people it serves,” the report continues.

County commissioners need to approve the new year spending plan by Nov. 30; county commissioners expect to approve a prospective plan by the middle of November, to give residents 15 days to react and respond to it before the approval date, Coke said.

stephanie.esters@thesouthern.com

618-351-5805

On Twitter: @scribeest

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Stephanie Esters is a reporter covering Murphysboro and Perry County.

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