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McHenry County Conservation District calls special meeting to discuss budget

Conservation Board will discuss disputed $28M fiscal proposal 2020

Elizabeth Kessler, Executive Director of the McHenry County Conservation District, presents a case for an increased budget for the organization during a finance & audit committee meeting on Thursday, May 9, 2019 in Woodstock.
Elizabeth Kessler, Executive Director of the McHenry County Conservation District, presents a case for an increased budget for the organization during a finance & audit committee meeting on Thursday, May 9, 2019 in Woodstock.

The McHenry County Conservation District’s board of trustees will hold a special meeting Monday to discuss its contentious $28 million spending plan for fiscal 2020.

The meeting – which will be held at
2 p.m. at the Brookdale administrative offices, 18410 Route 14 – comes days after the county’s Finance and Audit Committee rejected the proposal. The committee cited a number of concerns, including questionable expenses and $206,000 more in tax dollars.

Trustees Vern Scacci, John Henning and Benjamin Washow requested the special budget meeting, according a news release sent Friday by McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks.

“I voted against increasing our levy and would like to see a meeting called to reopen the budget process,” Washow said in a statement. “I would like to see an agreement reached on holding the levy flat or even reducing it.”

The district’s proposal drew criticism from Franks, who felt more than $206,000 in new property tax money ran contrary to the county’s efforts to lower taxes.

The bill for a home with a median value of $215,000 would rise by $6.70 because of the conservation district’s tax increases, according to the district’s executive director, Elizabeth Kessler.

A resolution authorizing the budget was rejected Thursday by a 2-4 vote from the county’s Finance and Audit Committee.

Conservation Board President David Kranz said the board had to wait to see how the committee meeting played out before scheduling a meeting on the budget. He added that good government is about transparency and giving the public an opportunity to have their voices heard, which is what happened Thursday.

Franks said Thursday he won’t advance the budget to the County Board’s agenda as it currently reads. Franks said he would like to see significant cuts to the budget and an agreement from the district to lower its property taxes to the levels they were before the increase was approved.

“The sooner we can get this issue resolved, the sooner the MCCD can have a responsible budget in place, and the sooner it can focus its full energies on its vital mission,” Franks said.

The district’s fiscal year began April 1, and under state law, conservation districts have a three-month window to get their budget approved if their county Board rejects it, according to the news release.

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