The first proposal would require
agencies and groups that request county funding to verify that they
hold open meetings and that their monies are specifically allocated.
The policy, if approved, will take effect as 2003-04 budget hearings
begin. Typically, hearings start in August for the budget that goes
into effect Dec. 1.
The proposal came to Thursday night's
county board meeting from the insurance and legislative committee,
where it was moved by board chairman Dale Voyles and seconded by
John Stewart. Besides requiring open meetings, the proposal is an
attempt to hold county-funded groups more accountable for how they
spend their money.
In a straw vote board members indicated
that they would approve the measure on Tuesday.
The issue of open meetings has
previously come up in regard to the Economic Development Council, a
committee of the Lincoln/Logan County Chamber of Commerce. Meetings
of the EDC, which receives funding from both Logan County and the
city of Lincoln, are closed to the public.
State's Attorney Tim Huyett has advised
county representatives Voyles and Dick Logan not to attend Economic
Development Council meetings until they become public. The county
board voted in April to withhold $25,000 budgeted for the EDC from
the county farm fund until the meetings are open.
Voyles, in his statement at the end of
the board meeting, announced plans to appoint a six-member county
board economic development committee. He explained that the county
needs to be active in economic development, but the current
situation "isn't working for us now."
All six prospective committee members
hold board positions deemed essential for economic development. They
include Voyles (board chair and chair of the potential committee),
Chuck Ruben (finance), Terry Werth (road and bridge), Dave Hepler
(planning and zoning), Bill Sahs (chamber liaison) and Bob Farmer
(airport and farm). In explaining Farmer's inclusion, Voyles said
the airport is a huge though underutilized asset that represents an
The committee, if approved on Tuesday,
will meet the second Monday of the month at the courthouse. Voyles
said he has informed chamber Executive Director Bobbi Abbott and
Director of Economic Development Jeff Mayfield that they are welcome
to come and share plans and ideas. The public may also attend.
In his closing Voyles also emphasized
three points made earlier in the meeting. First, an expected grant
of over $38,000 looks promising for funding three capital
improvement projects -- repair of the courthouse dome, security
cameras for the jail and improvements at Logan County Airport. Roof
repairer Bob High has indicated that he will charge $20,550 to fix
the dome, which has been leaking. Security cameras for the cell area
of the Safety Complex have already been purchased. The 911 board
will bear half the $29,278 expense. Lastly, cost of the airport
improvements is $7,200.
The grant is expected from the Illinois
Department of Natural Resources and represents a percentage of the
money from the sale of ground adjacent to Madigan State Park.
[to top of second column in
Voyle's second point was to support a
proposal offering early retirement to sheriff's department
personnel. To qualify, an employee must be age 50 or older with 20
years of service. A stipend of $12,500 is proposed for those who
submit a letter of resignation effective Nov. 30, 2003. Employees
will have a window of two weeks to apply for early retirement, if
the motion is approved.
Voyles estimated that four employees
would qualify, representing a potential savings of $155,000 over
three years. "I think that's a positive, forward-looking step," he
said. "It's going to help balance the budget in the coming years."
Voyles assured board members that any employee who retires will be
In a nonbinding vote, board members
supported offering early retirement in the sheriff's department.
Third, Voyles spoke in favor of a
proposal to consolidate all county building and grounds budgets
under the building and grounds committee. This would include
entities such as the highway department that now have separate
building and grounds budgets. The proposal is on the May 16 finance
committee agenda and could be presented at Tuesday's full-board
"It's a great move to help control
overall finances" and standardize accounting, said Voyles, who made
the motion at the building and grounds committee.
Thursday night's meeting opened with
about 50 guests, most present for awards to winners of a countywide
recycling contest for third-graders. The children gathered
signatures from people promising to participate in recycling.
Ken Schwab of the sponsoring Logan
County Joint Solid Waste Agency presented plaques to the 17 winners,
who also received free pizzas from Pizza Hut. "They were just little
ambassadors in their communities," he praised the children. "You
couldn't buy an ad that could have as great an effect." Schwab said
his agency received more calls for curbside containers during the
promotion period, and "in the small towns the containers were just
Cameron Harnacke of New
Holland-Middletown Grade School collected the most signatures -- 291
of them. Angela Getchel, president of Lincoln Junior Woman's Club
when it co-sponsored the competition, presented Harnacke with two
books on nature for his school.
Schwab gave special recognition to
Tommy Zinser, a fifth-grader from Emden, who has conducted a
curbside recycling program in his town since being involved in the
contest two years ago. Zinser uses a garden tractor and wagon to
haul the recyclables. He has received statewide recognition through
an article that was written by his teacher, Joslyn Mathon, and
included in a Department of Commerce and Community Affairs
In other business:
--Building and grounds chair Dick Logan
said motion sensors will soon be in use at the courthouse at night.
tentatively approved $7,616 from the county bridge fund to repair
piling on 50th Street over Hunter Slough in Mount Pulaski Township.