Near the start of this month's meeting of the Montgomery County Board, Chairman Evan Young read a letter of resignation from board member Dillon Clark of Litchfield, who has been absent from the past several meetings.
In his letter, Clark said that he had enjoyed his time on the board and that he wanted to thank fellow members for their passion, friendship and pride in making this county the best it can be.
"Also, I want to thank the citizens of my district for their support over the years," Clark wrote. "I have no doubt that Montgomery County is in great hands, and I can't wait to see the amazing things our home has in store for the future."
Young said the letter was received on the same day as the meeting, Tuesday, July 9, so the board would not be able to take action on Clark's resignation until the August meeting. After his resignation is accepted in August, county Democrats will have 60 days to nominate someone to fill the vacant seat.
In addition to Clark, board member Richard Wendel was also absent from the meeting.
After calling the meeting to order, Young asked board member Glenn Bishop to lead the Pledge of Allegiance, and members unanimously approved the mileage and per diem reports and the minutes from the previous meeting.
During the consent agenda, Treasurer Nikki Lohman said the county made the first distribution of property taxes to the county's taxing bodies on July 9, and would make a second distribution after the Friday, July 12, deadline for the first installment of property taxes. She said that the county has collected a little over $13 million so far in property taxes, including $212,571 collected from online payment services, which is new this year.
Board member Earlene Robinson reported that the 708 Board met to discuss appropriation of this year's funding. They awarded $599,658 of the board's $785,087.15 this year. She said she will announce the break down of the funding awards next month, when all the entities have been notified. The 708 Board will meet again on Aug. 12.
Board member Ron Deabenderfer reported the Planning Commission had two speakers, including Cyndy Howard of the Montgomery County Health Department and soil conservationist Dave Rahe, who spoke on the installation of septic systems in the county. The Planning Commission is currently putting together a guide for would-be builders in Montgomery County, including steps to follow for new construction. He added that the Planning Commission had also planned to discuss new state regulations for the wind ordinance to see if the county is in compliance, but that will be done at the next meeting.
In Senior Citizens news, Deabenderfer said he met with Lyn Fugate, who is the director of the Hillsboro center, and the two will be attending the county's July budget hearings together to ask some questions. He added that the group has not had a quorum to meet since November, but plans to return to regular monthly meetings on the third Monday in August at 1:30 p.m.
In a final note, Deabenderfer reported he attended the county's drug court graduation in June, and encouraged all board members to try and attend the next one.
"Of all the things I have done as a board member over the years, this was the most rewarding," he said.
In University of Illinois Extension news, board member Connie Beck said Director Amanda Cole presented a budget about $20,000 in the red, but they would be able to use carry-over funds to make up the difference. The group will meet again on Oct. 17, in Taylorville.
In information systems news, Young said things were moving along. Montgomery County Clerk and Recorder Sandy Leitheiser thanked the board for adding a third person (Nick Hall) to that team, and that county employees were very grateful.
In addition, Leitheiser said she and Young met with a census representative to begin the process for the 2020 census taking. She encouraged board members to get involved and participate to help everyone in the county get counted. They will host a job fair on July 24, at the Historic Courthouse in downtown Hillsboro for anyone interested in becoming a census worker.
Road and Bridge
Road and Bridge Committee Chairman Gene Miles said his committee approved the sale of the cross draft paint booth for $3,000 to David DeWerff. He added they did not get any bids on the other two paint booths, so they decided to rebid it with no minimum bid for 60 days. Miles said the committee does reserve the right to reject any bid they feel is not high enough, and bidders will have a chance to raise their bid when bids are opened.
Miles said the county received an insurance check for $39,729.73 for wind damage on the metal roof on a shed. The county could have gotten $60,000 if they replaced the building, but Miles said the committee felt like that wasn't enough to build a bigger shed on the new property.
He told the board that County Engineer Cody Greenwood is looking into bids for two new overhead doors on the collision center at the former Wright Automotive. Miles noted they will use the insurance check from the roof damage on the metal roof to install the new doors.
Miles told the board Greenwood expects to receive $230,000 in additional motor fuel tax dollars from the state this year, and that all the county's townships will be able to divide $640,000 in additional funding.
"It will be very good for us," Miles said.
In a final note, he said the county plans to apply blade mix to Oconee Road in late July or early August. Board member Jeremy Jones asked if the county would be once again renting a striping machine from Taylorville for county roads. Miles said after the blade mix is done, Greenwood plans to stripe several roads. Jones asked if the Black Diamond was included, and Miles said it was.
Board member Jim Moore added that work has begun on the bridge repair work over Coffeen Lake.
Finance Committee Chairman Megan Beeler presented the capital improvement fund report, including two coal royalty payments. The county received $5,000 in April and $8,000 in May. She said they also received a payment in June, but it was not included in the report.
Beeler also reminded the board members of the upcoming budget hearings on Monday, July 15, beginning at 8 a.m. through the entire day. They will continue on Wednesday, July 17, beginning at 8 a.m. and hoping to be done at 1 p.m. Beeler said the hearings are open to all board members.
"It's a great time," Beeler said. "You will learn a lot."
Beeler said her committee continues to look into revenue ideas to help fund recycling, and encouraged anyone with ideas to bolster funding to contact her or the finance committee.
Her committee also continues to work with the 911 Board and the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office in creating a centralized emergency dispatch center at the county jail. She said they have asked the 911 Board for a 9 percent operational fee to cover costs like phones, utilities, insurance, payroll and IT services. She said the 9 percent is what the Litchfield and Nokomis communities pay for dispatch services.
For total services, the county will pay 41 percent of the budget, 911 would pay 41 percent of the budget and the other 18 percent would be covered by the Nokomis and Litchfield dispatch services. Negotiations on the matter continue, as the 911 Board will meet again on July 18. Beeler said the committee expects a counter-offer from there, which will be discussed at the next finance committee meeting.
Beeler said that meeting has been moved to Monday, Aug. 12, due to Old Settlers.
In a final motion, the board unanimously approved conveying a deed in Pitman Township to Kane A.M. Hobson.
In elections news, Leitheiser reported the county has seen an increase in voter registration due to the automatic voter registration now in place with the Secretary of State's office. She added that she would be attending cybersecurity training in Springfield on July 10.
In EPA news, HWE Chairman Chuck Graden said Bill Gonet would be retiring in February of next year, and the county would be looking to hire someone to start in January that could train with him for six weeks.
Graden added that Gonet recommended the county not do its own inspection of tire facilities in the county. This year, the state offered $500 per facility to counties willing to take on the inspections themselves. Gonet told the committee it would not be worth the money. Deabenderfer asked what the consequences would be, and Graden said the state would come and do it. Beeler said they learned the Illinois EPA had some funding they were trying to funnel to counties, which is why they were offering to let counties do it themselves. Gonet said it would require multiple visits to each site, and that it would cost the county more than $500. Moore said it's part of an ongoing grant, and board member Glenn Savage said they could always revisit it. Board members voted unanimously not to have the county conduct the inspections.
Graden reported that Fayco is closing its recycling center and offered to sell or give some equipment to the county. Recycling Director Mike Hand is going to go and look at the equipment.
In a final note, Graden said the state's attorney had reviewed the animal control contracts, and they will be discussed at the August committee meeting and at the next Mayors meeting on Aug. 14.
Building and Grounds
Building and Grounds Committee Chairman Bob Sneed reported that the window caulking and weather stripping as part of the Smart Watt project had been completed, and they would be hosting a logistical meeting on the transformer replacement and the HVAC system at the jail on July 10.
Young said he continued negotiations with Ameren over the pipeline easement.
Sneed said he hadn't received any maintenance or cleaning complaints, and the committee was trying out a new sound system in the meeting room.
The committee is also continuing to work on the county surplus sale, and will set a date soon to get items to the new highway department facility.
Economic Development Committee Chairman Donna Yeske said things were going well with both the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation and the CEO (Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities) programs. She added that local communities were also stepping up to encourage CTI to expand within Montgomery County by pre-signing up for services. Currently, only Irving and Litchfield have not met the pre-signup numbers. Coffeen, Fillmore, Raymond and Witt have all reached their goals. That does not guarantee CTI will expand in Montgomery County, but it does show interest.
"Hopefully, we will be able to say soon that CTI covers all of Montgomery County," Yeske said.
In tourism news, MCEDC Program Coordinator Valerie Belusko is working on completing tourism videos.
Yeske added that workers continue moving dirt at the Eagle Zinc site and that the West Central Development Council hired both a chief financial officer and a personnel officer.
In a final note, Yeske said they were hoping to hear more on the Enterprise Zone in September. Beeler asked if the five-member review panel had been selected, and County Coordinator Chris Daniels said it had. It includes the DCEO director, the director of the Department of Revenue and three other members. Daniels said of those three, one was from Chicago and two were from downstate. She added that only one member of the panel has previous experience in reviewing Enterprise Zone applications.
EMA Committee Chairman Bill Bergen said the committee reviewed the 2020 budget ahead of the July hearings. He added that the committee continues to work on updating contracts for the ambulance districts.
Bergen reported that 911 Coordinator Greg Nimmo still hopes to have the mapping process completed in November.
Bergen said that IMT team training was completed on July 2, and the county is working on a Hazmat drill on Oct. 19 in Litchfield and a large county-wide responder training day on Saturday, Oct. 5.
In a few final notes, he reported that the drone would soon be fixed for about $250, and that the weather sirens were still working. He added that Nimmo had been deployed to other parts of Illinois to help with flooding.
Personnel Committee Chairman Kirby Furness reported the county had to pay a $180 renewal fee in addition to the annual $6,000 for management of the HRA. Furness said that usage of the employee health insurance system was $35,361 through June, which is up from last year. He added that the county put a 5 percent increase in the budget for health insurance, but CIBC representative Tony Johnson thought it might come in closer to 2 percent.
Furness said the committee continued to discuss what it could do to help employees. He said currently, the county pays 50 percent and the employee pays 50 percent, and suggested the county bolster their portion to 75 percent, which would help employees with out-of-pocket expenses. Furness said it could cost the county around $40,000 extra. Currently, the health insurance premium costs the county around $970,000 and another $70,000 for HRA expenses.
Miles asked where the money was coming from, and Furness said they had a surplus last year, and that he felt it wasn't a lot of money, but that it could really help employees. Moore asked if they would have problems with union contracts, and Furness said he didn't think so since this favors the employees. Board members unanimously approved the switch to the county paying 75 percent of the HRA.
In a final note, Furness said they continue to work with Kyle Shell on an employee personnel manual, but it's at least six to eight weeks out yet.
Young reminded the board of the ice cream social at the Montgomery County Farm Bureau before their next monthly meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 13, in downtown Hillsboro, and he encouraged them all to attend.
Before adjourning, the board unanimously reappointed Kent Aumann to the Montgomery County Board of Review for the 2019 and 2020 sessions.
With no public comments, the board adjourned at 6:22 p.m. after approving the bills. The next regular meeting of the Montgomery County Board will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 13, beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the Historic Courthouse in downtown Hillsboro.