County Board Meets After Re-Organization

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The night after meeting briefly to re-organize and elect leadership, members of the Montgomery County Board met again on Tuesday evening, Dec. 8, for their regular monthly meeting. All board members were present for the meeting, held at the Historic Courthouse in downtown Hillsboro. Board member Donna Yeske participated virtually.

In calling the meeting to order, Chairman Evan Young asked new board member Jim Havera to lead the Pledge of Allegiance. Board members unanimously approved the consent agenda. 

In liaison reports, board member Tim Fogle thanked volunteers for the Meals on Wheels program on behalf of CEFS, and said they are always looking for help with the program. He added that in the county, CEFS hired a new client services employee, Larry Blevins, who also works with the Litchfield School District.

Board member Bill Bergen reported the 911 upgrades are fully operational at the sheriff’s office, and he said that 911 Director Ed Boyd wanted to thank the county board for their cooperation in the project. Sheriff Rick Robbins added that Boyd is one of this year’s employees of the year for the sheriff’s office, due to his dedication to the 911 project. Other recipients include correctional officer Josh Manning and Deputy Kurt Eller.

In Senior Citizens news, board member Ron Deabenderfer reported that group will not be meeting again during the pandemic, and that the building is currently closed except for employees.

Board member Richard Wendel said the West Central Development Council won’t have a meeting until February, but noted the individual audit is done. A state audit of the organization will be done in February.

Coordinating

In his report, Young said the phone system upgrades are still underway with the information systems department. Young added that the Chromebooks for county board members are still on backorder.

In a census update, Montgomery County Clerk Sandy Leitheiser said some things are still playing out with the United States Supreme Court. However, the plan now is to release population counts on Dec. 31. She said around April 1, 2021, they will announce the redistricting counts to the states. She said that could affect the county board districts as well as congressional legislative districts.

Board members unanimously extended the disaster declaration in the county due to the ongoing pandemic for another month. Chris-Mont EMA Director Greg Nimmo was unable to provide a report during the meeting as he was on another conference call about how the COVID vaccine would be distributed.

Finance

Finance Committee Chairman Megan Beeler said Supervisor of Assessments Ray Durston’s office received 30 assessment complaints for the board of review.

Board members unanimously approved an intergovernmental agreement between the county and Nokomis-Audubon Multi-Township. Beeler said that with fewer people to fill positions, many townships ask the county for help to fulfill the duties, which are done by Durston’s office.

In the treasurer’s report, Beeler said they did get several payments in October, including coal royalties, the sale of surplus items and sale of recycling items.

Beeler said the county did receive a check from the CURES fund for reimbursement of COVID-related expenses. They have also applied for reimbursement from FEMA, but are still waiting to see if they will receive any funding.

Beeler said they will meet with local taxing bodies in December about an update to the Vistra power plant issue. According to their attorney, the county and other taxing bodies should see some funding after Jan. 1.

The county has been approached by the city of Litchfield, who wants to raise the tax levy for the ambulance district. Beeler said that while the county levies the funds, they don’t say yes or no to the increase. She said they continue to work on it.

The board unanimously approved the conveyance of several deeds. They conveyed one from Nokomis Township to North Illinois Investments, LLC, one from Nokomis Township to Raymond Eller and Linda Eller, one from North Litchfield Township to Plummer Holdings, Inc. (care of Terry Plummer), one from Irving Township to William D. Tolliver, Sr., two from Irving Township from R. Brandon Bell and Melissa Bell, one from Irving Township to Lance L. and Kendra S. Caulk, two from Witt Township to Gregory Elliot and Debra Elliot, one from East Fork Township to Richard Wilson and one from Witt Township to John Stivers. Board member Mark Hughes asked if the county knew who North Illinois Investments, LLC, was, and Beeler said they did not, as the tax deeds are sold by silent bid.

In a final note, Beeler said they have a closing date on Pitman Township surplus property to Jamie Hannah.

Building and Grounds

Building and Grounds Committee Chairman Bob Sneed said they worked on some normal maintenance issues, including getting things ready for winter. They serviced the generators and checked the sprinkler systems. They also winterized the lawnmowers and have the snowblades ready to go. Employees also stripped and waxed a floor in the basement of the Historic Courthouse.

Sneed said the committee continues to work on additional space for the coroner’s office.

He added that eight additional recycling containers have been dropped off by DC Waste and Recycling and have been distributed to county buildings, where they are already being utilized.

In other business, he said they plan to spot clean the carpet in the circuit clerk’s office, as it is currently closed to the public. Sneed added that tuckpointing at the Historic Courthouse had been complete, except for the very high areas, which will be done in the spring.

Sneed thanked board member Donna Yeske for getting the bunting and the candles to decorate the Historic Courthouse for Christmas. They also have green lights in the tower and red lights in the front entrance.

“It should be very festive,” Sneed said.

Economic Development/EMA/HWE

Young reported that due to the board’s reorganizational meeting on Monday, the economic development, EMA and HWE committees did not meet in December. Moving forward, the EMA and HWE committees have now been combined into the safety and elections committee.

Personnel

Personnel Committee Chairman Bill Bergen said the county employee health insurance usage is around 15 percent so far, though it could go up a little in the final weeks of the year. Bergen said the county’s health insurance premiums will go up about 3 percent next year.

Board members tabled a motion to grant employees the chance to use 2020 vacation time until March 2021. Due to the pandemic, Bergen said some employees had been unable to use all their vacation time, and the committee recommended extending that to March. Beeler asked if they would cap the amount of time that could be taken, noting that some offices already struggle to cover when employees are off for vacation time. Board member Patty Whitworth said she agreed, and wondered about extending the offer through May.

Leitheiser said that her employees had been able to utilize their vacation time, so it would not be an issue in her office. Beeler asked to poll office holders present, and Treasurer Nikki Lohman, Robbins and new State’s Attorney Andrew Affrunti said it would not affect their offices either. Affrunti said his office is covered by union contracts, so the motion would not affect them. 

Board members began to discuss whether the motion would cover only non-union employees. Board member Sandy Johnson asked to table the motion until they could find out how many union and non-union employees would be affected.

In other business, the committee said Deabenderfer discussed the issue of county board members’ pay when it was dropped from $75 to $60. He also discussed a need for a human relations employee to help answer personnel questions. Yeske is going to look into how other counties do it. The committee also discussed the size of the board and re-districting, but no action was taken.

Road and Bridge

The board unanimously approved a two-year contract with Farmers Oil for the purchase of bulk fuel. Bid differential over wholesale prices are $.07 per gallon for clear diesel, $.07 for gallon for dyed diesel, $.02 per gallon for diesel additive, $.02 per gallon for diesel winter additive and $.09 per gallon for unleaded fuel. The other bid came from M&M Service Company.

Road and Bridge Committee Chairman Gene Miles said County Engineer Cody Greenwood got bids for electrical work at the new highway department building on the former Wright Automotive property. The low bid was from Lyerla Electric, and the committee authorized up to $30,000. Leitheiser questioned whether that measure needed to come before the full board as all vouchers over $10,000 need full board approval. Miles said they worked off the number $30,000, which was allowed for bids. Affrunti said the committee was fine to approve up to $30,000 for the bid. If any of the vouchers for the work come in at over $10,000, then they will need full board approval.

Miles said they are awaiting information from the state about appropriating funds to pay the county engineer and will do so next month.

In a final note, he said they continue to do work on the Fillmore/Nokomis blacktop.

Appointments

The board reappointed Larry Ziegler as commissioner to Zanesville #3, County Zone #15 Drainage District and Randal Riemann as commissioner to the Pitman-Zanesville #2, County Zone #33 Drainage District. They also appointed Jon Magnuson, Terri Miller and Lyle Polus to four-year terms on the 708 Board.

There were no public comments. After approval of the bills, the meeting adjourned at 6:20 p.m. Members of the Montgomery County Board will meet again on Tuesday, Jan. 12, at 5:30 p.m.

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