The public hearing was held in compliance with the Bond Issue
Notification Act of Illinois. A statement announcing the hearing was
published on Sept. 26, also in accordance with this act.
was opened to any members of the public who are in opposition to the
bonds being issued. No citizens were present to explain their
objections to the bonds.
Attention was then given to those present who supported the
issuing of bonds. Steve Siltman, chief officer of the Logan County
Ambulance Service, was the first to speak. The ambulance service
would be one of the agencies that would experience a reduction in
property tax levies should the board not be able to sell bonds.
"We do not receive a great amount of money as far as tax dollars
to subsidize the ambulance service when you look at the total
budgetary concern that we have," said Siltman. The total operational
budget for the service is roughly $1.6 million annually, and the tax
levy makes up a little under $130,000 of that total.
The ambulance service is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
"We're not in the business of making money; we're in the business
of maintaining ourselves," said Siltman. "When we budget tightly,
$130,000 actually is a great deal of money."
Siltman also said that for every dollar they charge for their
services, they receive 50 cents back. In order to maintain the
business, the ambulance service sends out over $3 million in bills.
Siltman mentioned this statistic because the tax levy is used to
help keep billing at that level. Aside from that purpose, the levy
is also used to buy and maintain the ambulances. The last ambulance
bought by the county cost $178,000. The service has five ambulances,
and they frequently require maintenance.
Without the tax levy, the ambulance service would have to charge
a great deal more to the public just to pay for maintenance costs.
Siltman mentioned that when he began working for the ambulance
service 38 years ago, an ambulance call cost about $100. Currently,
the average emergency call will cost anywhere from $800 to $1,000.
"It's a very expensive venture," he said.
After Siltman's thoughts were heard by the board, Vic Martinek of
the Lincoln & Logan Development Partnership presented a letter from
Steven Smith, the president of the partnership.
Smith's letter states:
"The recommended Plan A will not burden the taxpayers of Logan
County with increased taxes. ... If the bonds are not issued, the
people with the most need in the county, will be the ones that
suffer the most harm in the only alternative budget available."
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After Martinek presented the letter, the board members were
allowed to voice questions or comments.
Jan Schumacher reported that she had spoken to Robert Henderson,
who began a petition to put the bonds on a referendum. (Henderson
was not present at the hearing.)
Schumacher passed his concerns along to the board:
The lack of
transparency in selling bonds without allowing the public to
vote on the issue. This type of bond, an alternate revenue bond,
does not require a referendum. This method of approval is
sometimes known as a "backdoor referendum."
The amount of
money the county wishes to borrow is too high at $1 million.
Furthermore, the interest payments
could prove to be too much for the county to pay back easily.
Schumacher reported that Henderson is aware of the potential
consequences should the bonds be required to go on referendum in the
Finally, while no presentation was made by the Logan County
Department of Public Health, a document was handed out detailing
what would happen should their tax levy be reduced to only $10,000.
A number of services would be shut down, including the Illinois
Breast and Cervical Cancer Program; DCFS HealthWorks; Women,
Infants, & Children, known as WIC; public health nursing; the dental
clinic; and home health. Furthermore, as many as 28 employees could
be laid off due to severe lack of funding.
Board members present for the public hearing were Robert Farmer,
chairman; Andy Anderson; Rick Aylesworth; Kevin Bateman; David
Martin; Pat O'Neill; Gene Rohlfs; Chuck Ruben; and Jan Schumacher.
[By DEREK HURLEY]
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