Tuesday, February 25, 2014
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County briefs for February

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[February 25, 2014]  Due to two presidential birthday holidays this month, when the Logan County Board met as a board of whole on Thursday evening, it was a week later than the normal meeting.


On finance matters, committee chairman Chuck Ruben reported on the status of the hotel-motel tax.

Lincoln took over the city portion of the hotel-motel tax beginning Dec 1, 2013.

Ruben said $7,200 was left in the line item, and the committee decided that those funds would be used for activities around the courthouse.

It was recently realized that the Redwood Motel is not in the city, and that tax does still go to the county. The to-date sum of $44 has been sent from the city to the county and will go directly to the county in the future.

As for the Atlanta hotel-motel tax, for now the county is sending it to Atlanta. Atlanta will begin receiving their tax directly when their ordinance is in place. They are setting up to do that now, Ruben said.

The county would also take out $600,000 in anticipation warrants. The funds are approved early in the fiscal year in case of a shortfall of cash before property taxes come in later in the year. That is not expected to happen this year, but the funds would be available to the treasurer to use as a float to pay bills.

This is a common process that takes place from year to year, but it did not happen last year as the county took out a $1 million bond for major criminal cases. The money was then available for use in the interim if needed.


Airport chairman Gene Rohlfs reported that the new rotating beacon is now operating at the airport. The beacon is part of last year's capital improvements program that primarily addressed lighting all over the grounds to aid pilots finding and navigating the airport at night.

The beacon light is much brighter than the former light, which is good for pilots looking for the airport, but it seems the light has a new angle and is now bothering some neighbors by shining in their windows, even keeping some people awake at night. An adjustment would be looked into.

Money for the "kitty"

Animal control chair Kevin Bateman reported that as part of high-speed rail needs, the railroad would be purchasing a strip of property behind the facility. The property has been valued at $1,700. Bateman asked that the funds go into the animal control line item.

Community Action

Community Action liaison Pat O'Neill said there was a lot of discussion this past month. Many of the federally supported programs the agency hosts are being cut down to what they were three years ago. He named Head Start, Weatherization and Public Transportation programs as subject to cuts.

In a review of the transportation program, there is an increase in general public use but a decrease in senior usage. He said there is a new taxi service that is free of charge for seniors and provides door-to-door rides for important needs such as doctors' visits.

Looking to the future, he said there is an urgent need with the development of the new housing project in back of Wal-Mart. A route around the main parts of town is being considered.

And, there are a number of area schools that have requested public transportation availability for their students. They've heard from MTI, Robert Morris, Lincoln Christian and a local school that might put a few students on if it worked out to be more economical.

Currently, the program operates within a limited budget, and transportation is offered only until 4 p.m.

In reference to the colleges, Andy Anderson elaborated that part of the reason the program could not accommodate the schools is that there are not enough vehicles now. Two to three more vehicles would be coming in February 2015, and expansion of the program could be considered then.

"All of them (the schools) are interested," O'Neill said. "You have to have the vehicles to take them there first."

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Revisions of board policies and procedures

Jan Schumacher, who chairs the legislative committee, said that the revised document of county board operating policies and procedures (see PDF) is ready to be voted on. An initial document was approved about a year ago to present to the state's attorney for his review and recommendations. It was understood then that it would be some time before he would have time, as there was a large trial at hand.

The new language includes changing the title of the full board's first meeting of the month from "board of whole" to "workshop." This meeting takes place on a Thursday. The following Tuesday has been called the "adjourned" session, which would be called the "regular board" meeting.

On another matter, O'Neill raised concern for when a committee falls short of a quorum and cannot approve bills that need to be paid.

Ruben explained that this does not typically cause a problem. When the law enforcement and the buildings and grounds committees met earlier in this month, weather prevented some members from attending, and a quorum was not present. So, just prior to the board of whole, both committees had brief meetings to conduct voting business, which included approval of bills to be paid.

Employee insurance

Schumacher said that ongoing problems with Aflac have led the insurance committee to decide to discontinue with that company. The committee is first looking for a replacement company. Employees who want to stay with Aflac would still be able to do so directly on their own.

Also, Schumacher said she has been talking to the county's consultant, Nancy Schaub of R.W. Garrett, about the health insurance renewal that is coming up. Due to the turmoil industrywide created by the Affordable Care Act, the county's current provider, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and most other insurance agencies are running behind in being able to make bid proposals.

Liquor licenses

There typically is not a lot of change in liquor licenses that are issued around the county. Like the city licenses, the number is limited.

Bill Martin said that the Corn Crib out on south Route 121 near Latham has closed. The owner has not made any decisions about his license yet as he is debating whether to just close or the possibility of selling.

Chuck Ruben added that there had been some question what would happen with Tom's Lodge as the owner there died recently, but Ruben had been notified by the family that they would be keeping the bar open.

Development partnership

The interim position of development partnership director is being filled by Bill Thomas, a businessman active in the Atlanta community, Ruben said there are three new members of the development partnership board: Jim Drew, Mark Houpt and Joe Ryan.

Bill Martin, who also served on the Logan County Regional Planning Commission for many years, helping spearhead the latest Comprehensive Plan and the more recently approved Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy, is serving as the county board's representative on a newly forming regional economic development association.

Martin said he'd been to the first meeting. After all this time, it's starting to move along. The next meeting will be on Tuesday at 7:30 a.m. A potential new director would be presented at that time. It would be a long day for Martin as that group meets in Peoria, and it would be the same evening that the Logan County Board adjourns at 7 p.m. Martin is a resident of Atlanta.

The structure of the Peoria groups has changed since Logan County began the process of joining with the regional group through CEDS. The Heartland Partnership that was a part of the group broke off and has continued its own direction.

Martin still has high expectations from the alliance. "I think great things are to come," he said.


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