By RORYE O’CONNOR
MT. VERNON — —
Jefferson County will give back the payroll responsibilities for Second Judicial Circuit probation on Dec. 1.
The Jefferson County Board voted 10-2 to transfer the responsibility of Second Judicial Circuit probation payroll and benefits to Franklin County, which is the lead county in the district based on the 2010 Census. Board members Jim Laird and Wayne Hails voted against the motion.
Board member Don Rector made a motion to approve the action item, with Robert Knutson seconding.
Board Chairman Robert White asked Jefferson County Treasurer Dan Knox if the state sent any of the probation funds currently in arrears.
Knox said he spoke with State of Illinois Comptroller’s Office Deputy Chief of Staff Cory Jobe, who said the only money the county will receive is about $152,000 in income tax funds, the payment from July.
“As far as anything from the AOIC, which is where all the probation reimbursements come from, the earliest that they are going to release money will be January first,” Knox explained. He added the reason for this is that Dec. 31 is the deadline for state to pay its expenses from the prior fiscal year.
Knox said he had informed the Second Judicial Circuit of the ultimatum set by the county in March, but had not informed anyone that a vote was set to take place Monday night.
He said Jefferson County received an offer from the director of court services for the Second Judicial Circuit to “front the shortfall money, which is $275,000,” which is given to Jefferson County every fiscal year.
“They offered to give us this coming fiscal year, some of that money,” he said. “That was a suggestion, that was going to be ran by the chief judge to see if that was a possibility. ...The reality of that scenario is — I’m going to say ludicrous, because you’re robbing Peter to pay Paul. You’re pulling money from the future. Not only would it mess up our budget by whatever amount they would give to us, it’s a shortfall for every budget year, it inevitably happens, so that doesn’t begin to solve the problem that we have right now.”
Knox said Jefferson County’s yearly expenditure for processing payroll for the circuit is about $800,000.
Board member Ted Buck said he was concerned what the board’s actions would do to Second Judicial Circuit employees who live and work in Jefferson County.
White asked whose fault the situation was — Jefferson County’s, Franklin County’s, the Second Judicial Circuit, or the state.
“The ones that are going to be punished are not the culprit,” Buck said.
Jefferson County has processed Second Judicial Circuit probation payroll and benefits for about eight to 10 years, Buck said, as it was the lead county in population in the circuit until the results of the 2010 Census.
Knox said he spoke earlier this year with the Second Judicial Circuit director of court services, and pointed out the First Judicial Circuit’s system of dealing with probation as a method that would not overly strain the lead county’s resources. He said he believes the people in charge of the circuit have not been proactive.
“In my opinion, they’ve been sitting on their laurels, thinking good old Jefferson County is going to take care of it,” Knox said, adding the board has to consider Jefferson County’s financial welfare before anything else.