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Local News

Health budget stable; no cuts expected in 2019

New building construction underway; 2019 budget up by less than 1 percent

The Will County Health Department on Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015, in Joliet.
The Will County Health Department on Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015, in Joliet.

Will County Health Department Executive Director Susan Olenek delivered an address on the state of her agency last week in which she highlighted the department’s stable finances, accomplishments from the past year and an update on construction of its new building.

Olenek highlighted the department’s strategic plan, which was approved in April.

It created five teams to focus on initiatives such as workforce development, internal and external communication, data and communication, sustainability, and the transition to its new building, which is expected to be completed in mid-2020.

She also spoke specifically to progress made on the new building’s construction. The department already started with preparations, making some changes to its parking that it admits will cause some headaches in the months to come for staff and visitors.

“The parking shuttle can be a hassle, and you may not be able to navigate the campus as you are used to, but it will definitely be worth it,” she said in her address, according to a transcript of her remarks.

Olenek added that they are still in the process of making decisions on matters related to the interior of the new building, such as the carpet and wall colors.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the new building is scheduled for 1 p.m. Feb. 5. The health department’s budget for fiscal 2019 is more than $28 million but increased by less than 1 percent from the previous year’s budget.

Last year, it increased some user fees throughout the agency, but it expects additional revenue from new grants and the expansion of some of its programs. It’s also seeing some payments still coming as a result of the over two-year state budget crisis.

Overall, with more funds expected from fees and grants, the levy from the county will stay at about $10 million.

Still, the department has tried to consolidate some expenses by centralizing services. This year, it was able to remove over $200,000 in expenses that will be taken over by county facilities management services.

Olenek said they will continue to try to save money and already have identified more lines in the budget to consolidate next year.

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