It was a relatively short night for members of the Montgomery County Board, who held their regular monthly meeting on Tuesday evening, June 11, at the Historic Courthouse in downtown Hillsboro.
Board member Dillon Clark was absent from the meeting, and board member Mark Hughes led the Pledge of Allegiance. The board unanimously approved both the mileage and per diem reports, as well as the minutes from the previous meeting and the consent agenda.
In liaison reports, board member Earlene Robinson said the 708 Board met on June 10 and interviewed all nine funding applicants for this year. She said funds will be awarded at the July meeting.
County Board Chairman Evan Young announced that board member Dillon Clark would no longer be the liaison to the Montgomery County Health Department, and appointed Sandy Johnson to fill his place.
Young said they continue to work on the information systems office and that a new employee has begun. CTI is expected to begin work soon in the county buildings.
He added that the county received a large FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request from Terry Richmond for all the full board minutes from 2017, 2018 and 2019, as well as all the minutes from committee meetings in those years, per diem requests and all invoices to the labor attorney. Young said the county had complied with the request.
Road and Bridge
In road and bridge news, the board unanimously approved several funding requests, all 100 percent funded by the county.
Board members approved $5,000 for a pipe culvert on Sorento Ave., $6,500 for a pipe culvert on Rockwell Trail, $7,500 for a pipe culvert on Mt. Olive Trail and $6,000 to mitigate erosion issues on Elevator Road.
Road and Bridge Committee Chairman Gene Miles said his committee is also selling the paint booths in the former Wright Automotive collision center by sealed bid. Minimum bids will be $15,000 for the spray booth with mixing room, $5,000 for the prep station and $3,000 for the draft booth.
Bids are due by 8:30 a.m. on July 2, and will be opened at the next Road and Bridge Committee meeting. If the bidder is present at the meeting, he or she may increase the bid, similar to an auction.
The committee also accepted an insurance payout of $37,729.73 for roof damage to the metal building on the Wright Automotive property, which will be used to store county vehicles.
Local resident Carol Dressen attended the committee meeting and spoke at the full board meeting as well. She expressed concerns about the county mowing and spraying native plants along roadways that help to support pollinators and monarch butterflies. She said that the Illinois Department of Transportation has altered its spraying methods and encouraged the county to do the same. Miles said the county has agreed to change its practices.
Finance Committee Chairman Megan Beeler said the county was pleased to receive the final multiplier at 1.000, and thanked Supervisor of Assessments Ray Durston and his office for their diligent work.
Treasurer Nikki Lohman said that property tax bills will be mailed this week with installments due on July 12 and Sept. 6. Beeler added there will be an insert in this year's bill with information on how to pay by credit card.
Beeler also reminded the board of budget hearings this year on July 15 and July 17, beginning both days at 8:30 a.m. Worksheets have been sent out to officeholders and department heads, and the committee is gearing up for the annual hearings.
Beeler said that her committee also discussed the shortfall of revenue for the county's recycling program, and are talking about potential revenue options to make it more sustainable. She said they are talking about the possibility of creating a recycling tax service area, similar to the county's ambulance districts.
They are also discussing an advisory question on the March 2020 primary ballot asking if residents would support the creation of such a taxing district to fund recycling.
"We will continue to look at funding options," Beeler said. "And if you have ideas, we want to hear them."
The board unanimously conveyed a deed in Bois 'd Arc Township to Keyrock Energy, LLC.
In a final update, Beeler said the county continues work on moving the information systems department to the basement of the Historic Courthouse.
In elections news, Montgomery County Clerk and Recorder Sandy Leitheiser reported the next county election will be held on March 17, 2020, as a general primary election. She said there was the potential of an omnibus election, but so far it had been stalled in state legislature, adding there may be more action on that front this fall.
HWE Committee Chairman Chuck Graden reported they took three truckloads of electronics from the recycling drive held in May. He said they have done repairs to two of the recycling trucks and had to fix the baler, which went down for a couple of days.
In a final note, Graden said Animal Control officials would be present at the next mayors' meeting on Wednesday, June 19, to discuss the municipal animal control contracts.
In Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation news, Committee Chairman Donna Yeske said they are working on a new non-profit community foundation to help local communities with funding. It's just starting out, but Yeske said the group is very hopeful.
In broadband news, Yeske said CTI continues to build out in the Hillsboro community, and is looking into the possibility of going to Litchfield next. She encouraged everyone interested in their services to let them know by signing up online.
Yeske reported that County Coordinator Chris Daniels attended Enterprise Zone training last month. Daniels said that all 14 Enterprise Zone applications had made it through the first round of reviews. They will now be looked at by a five-person panel appointed by the governor, and the committee has until Sept. 30 to review them.
Yeske added the barricades had been moved back on the Green Diamond Bike Trail.
In a final note, she said the committee has been meeting with Bob Buda of Litchfield on economic development ideas, and will be talking with the state's attorney about some of the ideas. Beeler added that the county does have a mechanism already in place to help fund ideas through the Revolving Loan Fund.
In EMA news, Committee Chairman Bill Bergen said Sherry Greenwood, in the billing office, had some questions about the ambulance contracts, and they would be working on that in the near future.
Bergen added that the 911 Board has reviewed a proposal to remain at the sheriff's office, and it will be officially voted on at the next 911 Board meeting. He said they continue to work on planning and logistics issues. They met with a vendor on May 30, and just received the vendor's report for review.
During the last storm, the county lost one of its radios in a lightning strike, and has been working with Motorola to replace it.
Bergen said that 911 Coordinator Greg Nimmo continues to work with Kevin Brink in the GIS office on new maps, and hope to have that project complete in November.
Bergen said that Nimmo took the county's drone to Meredosia for flood footage, and also took it at the family's request to the funeral of Raymond Police Chief Val Sheldon. However, that day it was very windy, and the drone crashed, so it is currently out of service.
Nimmo also went to Calhoun County with former Litchfield Fire Chief Kevin Schott for a mutual aid request due to the flooding.
In a final note, Bergen said they continue to work with all four county school districts on a Community Risk Committee for a county-wide safe school hotline. They have applied for $3,200 in grant funding from the 708 Board and will know more about that in July.
They are also working with HSHS St. Francis Hospital in Litchfield, who just received a $200,000 grant for heroin and opioid prevention in rural areas.
In personnel news, Montgomery County Sheriff Rick Robbins reported he had hired five new patrol deputies, two new telecommunicators and one new correctional officer. He has one more correctional officer spot to fill and will be back at capacity. Robbins noted these are not new positions, simply filling existing positions and said he was excited to have some great new people working for the county.
Personnel Committee Chairman Kirby Furness said that Amanda Mast met with 51 county employees who voiced concerns about the county's health insurance.
Furness said they were working to boost the county's portion of the HRA funding to offer a better deductible to employees. He said they will know before the budget hearings next month.
Furness said they have spent $30,061 in HRA expenses this year, which is up a little over last year.
In a final note, Furness said they met with an attorney and business agent for the recycling union about a grievance and that matter has been tabled until after budget hearings.
Building and Grounds
Building and Grounds Committee Chairman Bob Sneed said Smart Watt held a kick off meeting to begin work on the energy savings project. Johnson Controls has been to work on the county's HVAC system, and the first part of the Smart Watt program will be sealing windows and doors.
In maintenance news, Sneed said they spent $3,200 to fix the chiller on the HVAC at the new courthouse, with no other maintenance issues.
He said the committee is still looking into sound system issues in the county board meeting room.
Sneed said the committee is still compiling a list of surplus items from office holders for a surplus auction. Circuit Clerk Holly Lemons asked who would pick up the items, and Sneed said the county would do it.
Robbins asked how the property would be sold, as he had several seized vehicles that could bring in some money for the sheriff's department, including two Humvees. Sneed said they would make sure they could break that out and get the funding to the sheriff's department.
After a 20-minute closed session, the board unanimously approved phase one of the Taylor Springs Reliability Enhancement agreement with Ameren, which includes a temporary easement of 3.87 acres and a permanent easement of 2.8 acres. The next phase will be an easement on the county farm on Illinois Route 127.
Before adjourning, Young reminded the board of an ice cream social hosted by the Montgomery County Farm Bureau on Tuesday, Aug. 13, beginning at 3 p.m., prior to that month's full board meeting.
He also passed out state legislative highlights from UCCI and the Illinois Association of County Officials, noting bills of interest from the General Assembly.
Board members voted to adjourn the meeting at 6:55 p.m. The full board will meet again on Tuesday evening, July 9, beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the Historic Courthouse in Hillsboro.