PINCKNEYVILLE — During a special meeting Monday, the Perry County Board voted to replace its amended budget with a budget recommended by Bruce Delashmit of Bellwether LLC, a consultant hired to help with the county budget.

The budget currently on display included $1.3 million in cuts, which would force county officials to lay off employees, close the jail and limit services. The Bellwether proposal will allow the county to get through the year with a $17,000 revenue-to-expense gap, a very small margin for any entity.

Delashmit said his proposal is designed to “get dollars out of the corners and into” the county’s general fund.

Some of the budget recommendations include:

  • Using standard financial software across offices to get better information for sound financial decisions.
  • Change the funds from which certain expenses are paid, such as using the county tort fund to pay for the time State’s Attorney David Searby Jr. is acting as civil council for the county.
  • Liquidating county-owned property.
  • Raising fees charged by the county.
  • A 25 percent cut in labor expenses, which will need to be negotiated with labor unions.
  • Renegotiating lower prices for items like employee health plans and telephone services.
  • Commissioners reducing their compensation for the remainder of the year.
  • Raising the county’s tax levy.

Commissioners Robert Kelly and Dallas Bigham voted in favor of putting the budget proposal on display. Board Chairman Jim Epplin voted no.

The budget will be displayed for 15 days. At the end of the 15 days, the county board will vote on whether or not to adopt the budget.

The board also approved changing animal control fees to reflect the multi-year rabies vaccines given to pets.  

During the meeting, County Board Chairman Jim Epplin gave his letter of resignation.

“I broke my right hip and right wrist, and I’m in therapy right now,” Epplin told The Southern on Tuesday afternoon. “It’s hard to make meetings with therapy three times a week.”

Epplin tendered his resignation to allow someone with more time to take his place. With the budget issues, Perry County Board is meeting more frequently.

“I’m not driving yet, and it’s not fair to my family who has to take me everywhere,” Epplin said.

The board will vote to accept or decline Epplin’s resignation at its June meeting, and to make notice of the vacancy to the Perry County Democratic Party, who will appoint Epplin’s replacement.

The board’s next regular meeting will be at 2 p.m. Thursday in the Perry County Government Building.

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Marilyn Halstead is a reporter covering Williamson County.

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