The local economy is making a rebound, says Madison County Commissioner David Dhume, and that is good news for his office.
“This is the most excited I’ve been as a commissioner,” said Dhume.
The rebound, Dhume explained, is evidenced by increased sales tax revenue each of the last three years.
“It gives us confidence that the local economy is better than it was and it is getting better,” he said.
While 2013 final numbers are not in yet, Dhume said he expects revenue to be about $12 million with about $11.5 million in expenses.
The county budget commission has anticipated revenue for 2014 at about $12.7 million.
Dhume said he is “really excited” about the possibility of having revenue about $1 million above expenses.
“I think a lot of counties would like to be there,” said Dhume. “We didn’t need to dip into our carryover and in fact, we were able to build that, which is exactly how it should be. It was a good year for the budget.”
He called 2013 “an active year.”
“I think in 2014 we are going to get some good results from the things we’ve done,” he said.
The commissioner said many of the 2013 efforts were about investing in the county’s economic development. He cited improvements to the I-70/U.S. Route 42/Route 29 triangle, as well as the hiring of a CIC director and a new chamber of commerce executive director.
“We are trying to make a very strong, professional, serious commitment to economic development to bring jobs, jobs and jobs to Madison County, which we know is important,” said Dhume.
He said the commissioners will keep that mindset in 2014.
“Just about everything we do will be about the economy,” said Dhume.
He said a major focus of the next year will be “an effort to reach out and collaborate, to work together and partner together at a higher level” with the cities and villages in the county.
He said within the county offices, collaboration has already been excellent.
“They have all contributed to the county budget by being frugal with their purchases and their practices,” said Dhume. “It truly is a team effort with regard to the budget. Everyone has worked together. Everyone understands, and that is helpful when it comes to putting those numbers together.”
The commissioners have decided to reward the individuals who have helped keep the county budget in line. Dhume said for several years, county employees received no raises. He said two years ago the county was able to give 2 percent raises.
“This year (2014) we are giving 3 percent raises,” said Dhume. “We feel it is just and it is earned.”
He said many employees have increased their workload and responsibilities so being able to reward them, “is nice to be able to do.”
Dhume explained the stronger economy has allowed the county to do things to help strengthen the county. He said it is important to keep that spiral headed in the right direction.
“The economy is stronger in 2013 than it was in 2012, and I think 2014 will be stronger than 2013,” said Dhume.
“It gives us the opportunity, the freedom to make investments in our community.”
He added, “This past year has proven to me that if you persevere, and you keep at it and you keep working, even when the situation gets difficult, when the economy turns around, you will be in a good position and I think that’s where we are.”
In addition to efforts to rebuild the economy, Dhume highlighted a needs assessment completed in 2013 as well as a program to match giving at the county fairgrounds.
He said a key to continuing to move forward is a decision to move forward.
“We want to find our positive attitude again,” said Dhume. “The only way we are going to make anything better is for all of us to work together for our future.”