Courthouse clock

Time stands still in Shelby County. The roof is fixed at the courthouse, but the clock (showing 2 different times) isn’t. The County Board reported a new part is coming. More timely matters were approved at the meeting Wednesday.

On 9-11, the Shelby County Board heard about an impending 911 consolidation, approved the 2019-2020 deficit budget and approved an RV park.

Board member Gary Patterson opened the meeting with a moment of silence to remember the victims of the 9-11 attacks and then led in prayer. Coincidentally, Frank Mulholland, the chairman of the 911 Committee had a report.

‘We were approached by Montgomery County to join in our consolidation with Christian County,” Mulholland said. “The vote was tabled in committee, but it seems the majority of the board is leaning to approve. I’m not for it.”

Mulholland gave his reasons.

“We’re only a couple of years into the consolidation with Christian County and now we are looking at bringing in simulcasting and there are things to work out,” Mulholland said. “Montgomery has their own problems. It will make it a larger board and a larger area.”

Mulholland said that down the road the State may force a consolidation. It is a state-wide problem and consolidations are being made all over.

A question was brought up and County Board Chairman Dave Cruitt explained that even if the 911 board approves the consolidation, the Shelby County Board would have to vote to approve it.

Currently the dispatch for the Shelby/Christian Consolidation is in Taylorville with a back-up at Pana. Jared Rowcliffe is also on the 911 board.

“The facility we have now can handle 5 operators at one time,” Rowcliffe said. “That would still be enough for adding Montgomery County, but it would be tight. We’ll have to look at expansion of staff.”

Rowcliffe said that staffing is an issue.

“We have trouble staffing the 911 system with what we are doing now,” Rowcliffe said. “It’s a stressful job and not much pay.”

A board member mentioned that having new employees causes some mistakes on some paging. Mulholland and Rowcliffe said the 911 director is in favor of consolidating with Montgomery. Patterson asked about additional costs of consolidation.

“It’s a no-brainer,” said Rowcliffe. “The overhead would be the same and we would be spreading the cost among three counties instead of two. It makes sense as far as dollars and cents.”

New board member Earl Baker said that if the consolidation is going to happen eventually, they should get ahead of it.

Another member said that bigger isn’t always better and the existing flaws should be worked on before expanding the consolidation. Paging has some problems, but the simulcasting next spring will page off of every tower and hopefully fix that.

“I’d like to wait a year,” said Mulholland, “but Montgomery can’t wait.”

Rowcliffe said he thought it could take a year to implement adding Montgomery.

“We’re just learning how to walk,” Mulholland said. “It’s not time to learn to run.”

In board action some rezoning was approved. As Zoning Administrator, Rowcliffe requested approval for three zoning amendment resolutions. The first two were by Beyers Lake Estates in Section 10 and Sections 2 and 3 Oconee Township from agriculture to general business for the development of an RV Park.

Those were approved unanimously by the board. The other request was by Scott and Katie Ohmes for Section 11, Oconee Township from AG to GB, again for the development of an RV Park. It was approved.

Rowcliffe also asked for approval of a new 3-year contract with Everbridge Inc. for Nixie Solutions to provide mass text services at the same cost as before, $3,617 annually. It was unanimously approved.

County Treasurer Erica Firnhaber gave a review of fiscal year 2018-2019 on year-end expenditures and revenues and asked for approval of a resolution establishing an interest payment fund and a fee on sales in error.

Firnhaber reported that the general fund is at $2,602,000, but $737,000 is restricted, leaving $1.864 million in the general fund. She also reported that the county spent $1.3 million more than was brought in last year from revenues. That included the $700,000 spent for the roof project.

The County Board then approved the budget for 2019-2020 in a roll call vote that was unanimous. The budget which began for the fiscal year starting September 1, is set at $13,067,207. If it all is spent, it will be a deficit of $703,637.

After the meeting, County Clerk Jessica Fox commented on that.

“We have had deficit budgets before and after the audit came in at the end of the year we came in in good standing,” Fox said., “Last year, we had the roof project, but in a normal year we finish on the positive side. However, we will be spending reserves.”

Firnhaber likewise sounded a note of caution after the meeting.

“The County has to be more aware of where we are at,” Firnhaber said. “When our savings are up, we tend to not be quite as careful with our spending. But, when it is decreasing we have to address it. We have to control the budget and find ways to cut spending.”

Bruce Cannon made the County Highway report. There was a petition for a culvert in Prairie Township at $10,000, 3 miles south of Strasburg. It was approved. He gave an update that the Windsor Township bridge project will start on September 23.

He also reported that the Cowden-Herrick Road patching was been delayed due to the lack of trucks available. He thought that they were probably busy removing debris from Eagle Creek.

He reported that the Illinois Commerce Commission is granting $347,565 for work on a railroad crossing south of the Willow Ridge Winery in Westervelt. The work is not expected to begin until next year.

He reported that the county will be receiving $250,000 in Capital Improvement Bond funds to go with $250,000 increase in motor fuel taxes. Those funds will be spent on roads and culverts.

Cannon also had a report from the Airport Committee.

“The IDOT Aviation Division made us widen the setbacks at the airport, so the revenues from farming were down,” Cannon said. “We lost about 56 acres of farmland. At the south end of the runway our corn and beans were replaced by hay and we had no crops at the west end.”

It was estimated that they lost about $20,000 from that change, leaving them about $12,000 under budget.

‘They are running in the red, so they need to trim expenses,” Cannon said. “Other entities raise funds, they need to raise funds. So, at the Balloon Fest they are going to charge $5 for parking on the property from 3:30 p.m. It’s not a solution, but it’s a start.”

Cannon also reported on the courthouse clock. He said it worked for a little bit, but then stopped. A part on the gear box got chewed up. A new part is coming and it would installed.

Two appointments were made. L. Curtis Corzine was appointed to the Flat Branch/Assumption Drainage and Peter Dove to the Clarksburg/Shelby Drainage.

John Curtis can be reached at

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