Thursday, April 17

County pays bills and holds back economic development funds

[APRIL 17, 2003]  Logan County Board members and State's Attorney Tim Huyett tiptoed through vernacular brambles at Tuesday evening's meeting. At issue were defining "meeting," "public body" and whether to keep a financial commitment.

In November, $25,000 was earmarked to go to the Economic Development Executive Council. The funds are from the airport-farm account. The EDEC, commonly known as the EDC, has been asking the city and county for funds to develop property for an industrial park.

The new director, Jeff Mayfield, has reason to believe that if we have taken care of the often lengthy legwork, prepared property by rezoning it and have it set up with sewer, utility access and roads, we will be able to easily entice new businesses. The north and west edges of town near Interstate 55 offer prime areas for this type of development.

Two county board members, Dale Voyles and Dick Logan, serve on the EDEC. They say they have not been regularly informed of meetings, which is a violation of the Illinois Open Meetings Act.

The EDEC is a subcommittee of the Lincoln/Logan County Chamber of Commerce. The chamber receives funds from the county and the city, which by definition of House Bill 2066 (4-9-03) appears to make them subject to the IOMA.

When the issue came up for vote, board member Bill Sahs asked if there was a reason to withhold the money.


Huyett said that he [representing the county] and Phillip Montalvo, for the chamber, disagree about whether the EDEC is subject to the Illinois Open Meetings Act. However, he stipulated that this is too small a county to push the issue. He will not be charging anyone criminally. He added, "I would like to see everyone getting along."

He said he sees it that the EDEC is "taking public money [and it is] spent in the public eye." He would like to see them make their meetings open to the public.

He is advising that no county board member go to any of their meetings until the council is in compliance.

David Hepler pointed out that the open meetings issue and the money are separate issues. Huyett agreed.

A vote was taken to withhold the funds. Dick Logan, Patrick O'Neill, Bill Sahs and Terry Werth all voted no. The vote carried and the $25,000 will be held back for now.


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In a separate issue, the board decided to cancel a special meeting scheduled for April 21 at 7 p.m. The meeting was to discuss prospective properties and priorities for development.

Committee chairman Charles Ruben said that he thought that they should first defer any considerations to the zoning board. If a property cannot be rezoned, it is of no use. Time and money would be wasted. They need to know more before scheduling a meeting.
In other financial matters decided by the board:

They will no longer have to dodge drips or move wastepaper baskets in the state's attorney's office when it is raining. The amount of $8,200 has been approved to repair the third floor of the courthouse roof. R.L. High of Clinton will do the work.

Payment for the sale and maintenance of specialized accounting hardware and software used in the tax assessor's and treasurer's offices has fallen behind. The Manatron Springfield office is supplying a yearly maintenance program that renews each May 1. At this time, $81,000 is owed on the account. It was agreed unanimously that payment will be made on the next year's budget, which begins Dec. 1.


In another budget-versus-needs issue, the county previously approved the lease of new security cameras at the Logan County Safety Complex at 911 Pekin St. A strained budget prevented the purchase. It is hoped that the cameras will curb the recent outbreak of reckless behaviors by inmates.

In a stroke of irony, the 911 board agreed last month to pay one-half of the camera costs. That was even before an inmate flooded the 911 facility located below the jail, damaging the newly installed high-tech 911 system.

It was unanimously approved to get the cameras installed as soon as possible. A committee will review whether purchase with a maintenance agreement or lease is more cost-effective.

Chairman Voyles stated that he didn't expect the trend to continue, but the board should be aware that the county had revenue shortfalls again this month.

[Jan Youngquist]

Ephedra made illegal to sell or give
to anyone under the age 18

[APRIL 17, 2003]  Logan County has joined Lincoln in saying no one can sell or even give, as in, "buy for, distribute sample of, furnish, exchange, or give away," ephedra and ephedrine products to anyone under the age of 18. The ordinance passed in full agreement.

The board originally had an ordinance drafted that set the age at 21. However, after further research they changed it to meet the same age standard as the new city of Lincoln ordinance.

The ordinance states that it is in the best interests and the safety of its citizens to regulate the sale of ephedra products due to adverse side effects that can occur with its use.

Products sold as a dietary supplement, energy enhancer or mental alertness product containing ephedra, alkaloids or derivative of ephedra and ephedrine must be displayed out of reach of customers.

Violation penalties range from $100 to $400 for a first offense and $400 to $750 on the second. Violation fines will be divided equally between a special abuse prevention fund and the county's general fund.

[Jan Youngquist]

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