Thursday, September 18, 2014
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County seats new board member; Makes room for Development Partnership; Approves draft of budget

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[September 18, 2014]  LINCOLN - The Logan County board met on Tuesday night to vote on issues discussed on Thursday the 16th. Among the items discussed was the seating of a new board member and the posting of the next fiscal budget.

New board member

Chairman Robert Farmer brought forward a recommendation for a new board member to replace Andy Meister. The new board member is Scott Schaffenacher from Mount Pulaski in Logan County’s 3rd District.

The board members unanimously approved of and applauded his appointment. Schaffenacher was sworn in to take his seat on the board. Schaffenacher was also placed as a member of the Building and Grounds Committee.

Finance matters

As part of the finance report, finance chairman Chuck Ruben made a motion to allow the Economic Development Partnership to move their office into the John Logan Building next summer after the Regional Office of Education has vacated. The board members unanimously approved of the use of the space by the EDP.

In addition, Ruben made a motion to put on display the budget and tax levies for the next fiscal year. The documents would be put on display for the public to see for the next thirty days. Ruben reminded the board members to make amendments to the budget as necessary sooner rather than later, and any changes in funding will have an effect on other areas of the budget. After the thirty days, the budget and the levies will each individually be voted on.

David Hepler proposed an amendment to change a revenue line item concerning the collection of public defender fees. Hepler suggested changing the amount from $1,500 to $25,000. “This small figure doesn’t reflect the capacity that I think we have and that I think the public expects,” said Hepler. “This would be a figure that would be reasonable if people who claim indigence are actually having to prove that.”

Ruben disagreed with the idea. “That figure has been $1,500 in the actual audited figures for as long as I’ve been on the Finance Committee. I don’t see how we can put an inflated figure into our revenues. It puts money in that people would expect,” said Ruben. Ruben said that the figure would create extra revenue at the end of the year that does not actually exist.

Patrick Timoney, the Public Defender of Logan County, said that between 1992 and 2008, the highest amount collected was $14,000. In addition, Timoney said that the highest figure since then was $10,000. “I’m sure the figures [this year] would be a lot less than $10,000,” said Timoney.

Hepler repeated that he does not feel the current numbers are satisfactory, and “the public ought to know that if somebody claims indigence before the court, that they’re actually having to prove that.” Hepler said he feels he is seeing the opposite recently. “Essentially [$1,500] means we’re not collecting anything.”

Ruben repeated that such a figure would create an expectation of money that would likely not come in. “We work hard as a finance committee to set a reasonable expectation of fulfilling these numbers,” said Ruben.

Hepler said he would be willing to reduce his amendment to $10,000. The amendment failed with a vote of seven-to-five against the amendment. Hepler, O’Neill, Rohlfs, Blankenship and Davenport voted for the amendment.

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Board member Pat O’Neill wanted to amend the budget and rename the line item that provides funding from the county for the Balloon Fest. O’Neill said he does not agree with the separation of the Balloon Fest and the other events that occurred on the same weekend this year and in the past. Currently, the county provides $5,675 to help fund the festival.

Ruben said that if the funding is removed, it could be reinstated later in the year. Hepler added that the money could still be used by the Chamber if they came forward to ask for financial aid.

O’Neill said he would rather see the money available for events and improvement for any area in the county. “That money would be used for community services as needed, or community activities,” said O’Neill.

O’Neill said that he feels the decision to split up the Balloon Fest and the related events was made without enough input from the public or local governing bodies. O’Neill said he has heard from numerous citizens who are not happy with the idea.

“It’s going to hurt the Balloon Fest and not really help the other events,” said O’Neill. “I hope that with the knowledge that they may lose the $5,600 that they [the Chamber of Commerce] may reconsider to keep the Balloon Fest intact and fix whatever problem they may have had.”

Jan Schumacher said she has heard complaints about splitting up the Balloon Fest as well. However, Schumacher added that the Chamber is spread too thin to keep up with all of that work that comes with holding so many events on one weekend.

“I don’t think the Chamber really had a choice because it’s grown beyond what they can manage,” said Schumacher. “People also complain that nothing ever changes around here, and then some people come up with an idea to do something different, and they’re attacked for that. I think we should give people a chance to try different things,” said Schumacher. Schumacher added that this decision was not a frivolous one, and that several months of planning went into the idea.

O’Neill’s amendment resulted in a vote of six-to-six. As per the board policy, the motion failed to pass, as a majority could not be reached. Gene Rohlfs, Schaffenacher, David Blankenship, Emily Davenport and Hepler voted in support of O’Neill’s amendment.

Finally, the motion to post the budget on display was voted on. The board voted to post the budget on display for the next thirty days, with only Andy Anderson voting no.

Board member present at the meeting were David Hepler, Rick Aylesworth, Chuck Ruben, Gene Rohlfs, Robert Farmer, Jan Schumacher, David Blankenship, Pat O’Neill, Andy Anderson, Andy Meister, Emily Davenport and new board member Scott Schaffenacher.


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