Friday, January 17, 2014
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County finance supports review of four local economic agencies

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[January 17, 2014]  The Logan County Board Finance Committee met briefly on Tuesday for their scheduled monthly meeting. Only a few items were brought up for discussion that evening.

A current topic discussed was the collaboration between the Lincoln/Logan County Chamber of Commerce, the Lincoln & Logan Development Partnership, Main Street Lincoln, and the Abraham Lincoln Tourism Bureau.

Andy Anderson explained that the groups have agreed to hire a consultant as part of this collaboration. Each group will need to pay $1,000 to help fund the hiring, as will the city of Lincoln and the county government.

"This is above what was quoted, but there will be other incidental costs," said Anderson, who added that February will be a busy month of meetings between the various groups in getting the effort started.

Chuck Ruben, committee chairman, said that the other groups have already agreed to pay their share of the fee.

Committee member Andy Meister said that while he hopes the effort will be fruitful, he is skeptical of whether or not they will learn anything new as a result.

"How are they going to divide anything up?" asked Meister in reference to what each organization focuses on.

"In theory it's a great idea. But we already know that there are intersections, that we can combine several of the jobs. It's just a matter of doing it," said Meister. He added that he was curious as to what the city of Lincoln would have done after beginning to oversee the tourism bureau.

Ruben said he feels that the groups are really paying for outside advisement on the strengths and weaknesses of each group and what could be altered for better purposes. He also said that in recent years, people who have been hired to direct some of these programs have left in relatively quick time frames, and this effort could explore a better alternative.

"This type of thing has worked before," said Anderson, who added that other areas in the Midwest have used the same strategy. "There's no guarantee that this is going to work, but we can at least approach it and see what can be done."

"It will be nice to cooperate," added Ruben.

The effort will take place over a period of 90 days early this year and will strategically examine each organization's mission, governance, functions and responsibilities. The groups will explore the best organizational structures to provide the most efficient and effective services to advance Lincoln and Logan County.

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The committee members approved of the expenditure, and it is expected to be voted on by the whole board this month. The money will be taken from the county office expenses line item.

Also discussed was a potential amendment to the health department's budget for 2014. The department's finance officer, Sally Gosda, was present to explain the situation at hand.

In late 2013, due to major losses in funding to various programs, the health department was faced with a difficult choice: whether or not to continue offering services via the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program. Initially, the state government denied the request of the Logan County Department of Public Health for financial aid to continue the program.

The denied request was for an amount equal to $42,000. However, in late November the state reversed their decision, granting the aid to the department through the end of July. As a result, a change would need to be made in the budget to reflect the incoming revenue.

With this money, the county health department will be able to continue offering the services of the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program. The committee members voted to approve the changes. The tax levies will not be altered as a result of these changes. The full county board will need a two-thirds majority vote for any motion to pass.

Committee members present for the meeting were Chuck Ruben, Andy Meister, Andy Anderson (replacing Terry Carlton on the committee) and Rick Aylesworth. Guests included Jonathan Wright, state's attorney; Mary Kelley, circuit clerk; Vicki Dugan, county treasurer; and Sally Gosda of the health department.


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