Friday, September 23, 2011
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Board struggles with possible annexation contest with city; approves nonunion pay raises, request for public transportation funds, letter of support to keep prison open and more

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[September 23, 2011]  The introduction of a resolution to hire an attorney for possible legal proceedings against the city of Lincoln prompted lengthy discussion at the Logan County Board's adjourned meeting on Tuesday night.

Various comments were expressed, but the majority of the board was not in favor of pursuing an attorney's services just yet.

Board member Andy Anderson said there was still a chance the county board could work something out with the city.

Other board members questioned the amount being considered as a retainer -- up to $400,000 -- and whether it was necessary to put an amount on something that remains to be formalized. The figure was chosen based on how much funding the county stands to lose in various taxes if the annexation would occur.

Pat O'Neill believed there should be a recount of the census to find out if the city has more residents than was reported.

However, Chuck Ruben, Terry Carlton and other board members agreed a recount was not the county's responsibility and would serve no purpose to solve the immediate situation.

The city of Lincoln's proposal to annex two prisons, Logan Correctional Center and Lincoln Correctional Center, would not only add nearly 3,000 to the city population, but would also carry liability and responsibilities for infrastructure.

The shift in tax funds would most particularly affect the county's finances.

A roll call vote for an amended resolution to reduce the retaining fee from $400,000 to $20,000 failed with a 6-6 vote. A similar vote for the original resolution met with the same vote count and also failed. No further action took place, and the subject was put aside for this month.

Ruben's committee also recommended a 2 percent salary increase for nonunion county employees. Discussion of additional amounts over the 2 percent to fully cover employee health insurance costs (employees now pay $23 per month and the county pays $415) led to two additional motions. A flat 3 percent salary increase that erases the question of insurance costs and other variables won in a final vote of 11-1, with O'Neill opposed.

The board unanimously approved the delivery of a letter to Gov. Pat Quinn that would oppose the closing of Logan Correctional Center.

John Black from AFSCME Local 2073 presented the board with information on union efforts to demonstrate support for the employees, with over 140 families living in several Logan County communities, mostly Lincoln, who would be affected if the local prison would close. The group plans to be in the LCHS homecoming parade, order T-shirts and post informational fliers. Proceeds from the T-shirt sales would be used to organize a community event as a way of thanking the town and surrounding area for support.

Insurance and legislative committee chairman Jan Schumacher introduced an ordinance for Community Action to provide public transportation in Logan County. In a related move, Schumacher also presented a resolution authorizing an application by the local agency to apply for public transportation financial assistance. Both items passed unanimously. The ordinance, LO 10-11 109, will be available for public review for 30 days.

Rick Aylesworth, law enforcement committee chairman, moved to approve renewal of a three-year FOP contract for deputies. Only 15 months remain of the three-year contract period, retroactive to Dec 1, 2010.

Terry Carlton said that because the contract did not include an allowance for health insurance copay, he would not vote for it. The motion passed 9-2 with Carlton and O'Neill opposed and Anderson abstaining.

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While the deputies' contract has been settled, the sheriff's department has two other support staff divisions with ongoing contract negotiations that are equally past due.

Later in the meeting the board went into executive session under the subjects of personnel, possible litigation and property sale issues.

Will D'Andrea, Logan County zoning officer, demonstrated the scope of the county's recently implemented geographic information system. D'Andrea explained some of the system's multiple capabilities, which can show boundaries such as parcels, taxing districts, voting districts or precincts, TIF, and recently updated enterprise zone territories. Flood plain maps were recently updated.

The GIS already offers a lot of information that is available to the general public, of interest to business developers and to many others. It is also an increasingly great tool with special uses to many local agencies and municipalities.

D'Andrea has been working with local agencies, departments and communities to show them Logan County's GIS can be used to help track detailed property-related information. Recently he worked with Don Cavi, director of environmental health at the health department. Through GIS the director can now select any country home property and see detailed information on that septic system.

“The power of GIS is the tables,” D'Andrea said. It can store and relate all kinds of information at a click.

D'Andrea also reviewed some of the zoning issues that were discovered during the mapping process, such as properties that were improperly zoned or not recorded when rezoned. Recently, parcels were identified that are within municipality boundaries but not included in that taxing body. Some other zoning issues have been discovered during property purchases, construction or other changes.

As zoning officer, GIS and enterprise zone coordinator, D'Andrea's work in all areas has gone into the GIS, resulting in more reliable and usable information for Logan County's future.


During ceremonial matters, the board honored the Logan County Fair Association and by resolution recognized the Logan County Fair's 75th anniversary.

In other business, a thank-you note for the county board's support was received from Chris Graue, representing the organizing committee for the recent Up in Smoke on the Square event during the balloon festival.



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