Downtown Kankakee

The Kankakee County building located at the corner of Court St. and Schuyler Ave.

KANKAKEE — After more than three years of battling budget deficits and having to make cuts across many departments, Kankakee County government now has something to celebrate.

“It is with great pleasure and excitement that I can finally announce to the board that the general fund is now positive,” said Steve McCarty, county finance director. “The ending fund balance is approximately $1.1 million.”

The announcement at Tuesday’s board meeting brought about a round of applause from members.

“In retrospect, we needed to talk about ’15 and ’16,” McCarty said. “Some of you may or may not realize we rounded up that we were a negative 5 million [dollars] in the general fund. The pension fund was also negative, so all of our funds are positive now.”

Board Chairman Andy Wheeler said it took a lot of hard work.

“He fails to mention we were borrowing $4 million a year, we had loans out and we’re paying the last of those loans to the highway department this year,” he said. “It’s not just the 4-mil, it’s a lot that has changed in three short years.

“It’s the work of the board, it’s the work of the labor partners who did this with us and the department heads. We were just not spending new revenue, we were digging out of the hole. We’ve got some more digging to do. You’ve got to have a surplus so you don’t have to borrow money when the tax season is not here.”

Wheeler added it’s not a license to spend.

“This is a big day,” he said. “It’s what we’ve been really working toward for three years. We had a plan, and we did it. It took everybody together, so I thank everybody for that.”

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