Macomb, IL – A man who worked to make rural Illinois a better place is retiring from his job at Western Illinois University. Norm Walzer was the founding director of the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs, which is headquartered at WIU. He says the IIRA grew out of a task force on the future of rural Illinois. The plan was to improve opportunities and the quality of life in rural regions. Walzer thinks the IIRA has accomplished that. He says the challenges facing rural Illinois when the IIRA began in 1989 included high unemployment and population loss.
Keokuk, IA – The Keokuk City Council has nearly resolved a six-figure shortfall in the city's spending plan for next year. Finance Chair Doug Matlick says the deficit in the general fund, which includes the police, fire, and parks departments; is down about $8,000. This after the council made nearly $200,000 worth of cuts at its last workshop. Matlick says the council put a cap on budget requests for each department in the general fund.
Fort Madison, IA – The Lee County Board of Supervisors is close to finishing up the county's spending plan for next year. The board spent more than 6 hours on Friday reviewing the full scope of the county's more than $23,000,000 budget. Chairman George Morgan says the numbers are much better than they were at this point last year. He says the property tax rate could be reduced by about 5%, when the final figures are calculated. Last year, the board raised the rate by more than 33%.