County Votes Down LRA Moratorium, Deliberates Budget
By JOHN HUGGINS | For The Prairie Advocate News
MOUNT CARROLL – The budget for the 2013 fiscal year dominated a large part of the Carroll County Board meeting held on Thursday, October 18.
Ed Juracek, representing the Carroll County Soil and Water Conservation District, thanked the board for their support and presented what the SWCD has been doing over the past year. Juracek noted that the state funding was cut by twenty eight percent and federal funds from the Department of Agriculture have been cut two years in a row. The SWCD had requested that the board increase the line item in the budget, currently at $5000, to $7500. However, none of the board members made a recommendation to increase the number.
The board reviewed, at length, the numbers for the health insurance plan for employees. They were presented with the savings so far this year from the newly implemented HRA self-funding deductible. Had they not made this change, they would have paid roughly $50,000 more, through September.
The possibility of raising the deductible amount another $1000 was debated. It was decided to look at the numbers again in December and perhaps make a change to the deductible effective in January. It was also brought up that when they originally made the change to the HRA, they would give it two years before making any changes, to get a better comparison.
The board voted to remove from the table a resolution to delay action for five years before the county withdrew from the LRA and the Savanna Depot Park development. A lengthy discussion followed, rehashing the history of the development, and the main focus over the last several months - the water and sewer works. The county wants some plan in place to remove its liability from the system once the LRA dissolves.
The LRA and Riverport Railroad are negotiating a binding agreement for the purchase of the sewer and water system. The board members have not seen the agreement yet. The Carroll County state’s attorney is reviewing it.
“Even once we get that, it still leaves the tenants to take a look at it,” stated County Board member Paul Hartman. “So, it’s going to be some more time. The LRA board has a meeting on Friday and they will make the agreement public so everyone can take a look at it, including the tenants.”
County Administrator Mike Doty announced the State had approved the language to change the code to allow wells to be dug within 200 feet of a water system.
“That would provide relief for the individual property owners who are worried about being held under the gun,” added County Board Chairman Rod Fritz.
“We need to take a look at what the impact would be,” Doty said. “Because whatever you do to the code isn’t just for them. It would be something that impacted all of the unincorporated areas in the county.”
Chair Fritz then called a vote on the motion to approve the resolution. All opposed and the motion died.
Sherriff’s Department Report
During the department reports, Fritz opened two bids for providing meals for the county jail. One was a flat monthly cost and the other was on a per meal basis. Sheriff Jeff Doran agreed to take a look at the numbers and report back next month on which would be preferable to him.
Sheriff Doran also informed the board that he received a memo from the Illinois Department of Public Health that they have to inform every inmate, and every visitor, about HIV testing. They will have to offer testing or screening, free of charge.
A question regarding electric aggregation will appear on the ballot for the General Election on November 6. The question reads:
Shall the County of Carroll have the authority to arrange for the supply of electricity for its residential and small commercial retail customers who have not opted out of such program? YES / NO
Essentially, what this means, if passed, the County can bid out for a better cost for electric. ComEd would still bill the customer and provide service, but the power would be purchased from the supplier the County chooses. Customers would have the have the ability to opt-out before any change in supplier occurred, or at any point thereafter.
Even though this would only impact those in unincorporated areas who are ComEd customers at this time, the question will be on all ballots of those in unincorporated areas, even those of JoCarroll Energy customers.
“However, in the future if something changed,” noted Doty, “and this has already passed, they could take advantage of it also. So, it is in their best interest to help their fellow county people out and go ahead and approve it.”
Highway Department Report
County Highway Engineer Kevin Vandendooren reported that the Sunshine Road bridge work, between Milledgeville Route and Elkhorn Grove Road, is a couple of weeks behind. The design for the bridge calls for a three inch overlay of hot mix asphalt. The hot mix asphalt plants will be closed by the time they get to the point when they are ready to lay it.
“Once a contractor takes control, meaning he puts up his barricades, that site belongs to him,” said Vandendooren. “If the hot mix isn’t put down, he’s not going to open that bridge up and it will be closed all winter. That’s why I’m bringing it up. It’s just a forewarning. I want to get it out to the public.”
Board member Joe Payette was concerned about emergency services needing access to the bridge. Vandendooren noted there were no buildings along that stretch of road and it was only about a mile to a mile and a half out of the way to go around.
Vandendooren discussed pay increases for the part-time workers. Currently they are paid $11.33 an hour. He recommended a minimum of a thirty-three cent increase.
- Zoning Officer Julie Yuswak informed the board that the Zoning Board of Appeals is in need of one member.
- Heard a report that the CEDS committee discussed preparing for the Thomson prison to open including doing an asset inventory of the county and compiling packets to give to people applying for jobs at the prison. The committee donated $1000 toward a best use assessment for the Campbell Center in Mount Carroll.
- Heard a report from Hotel/Motel Tax Board that the tourism website, gocarrollcounty.com, was undergoing redevelopment.
- Learned auditors would be at the courthouse October 29 and 30.
- Approved the 2012 Holidays schedule.
- Voted to reappoint Chris Bowman to the Tri-township Airport board.