The Shelby County Board seated a new member on Wednesday at its November meeting and conducted regular business.
Robert Orman of Windsor was appointed to fill the vacancy of Don Behl in District No. 7 (Ash Grove, Big Spring and Sigel Townships). He was sworn in by County Clerk Jessica Fox and was then seated.
Probation CMO Aaron Burdick requested approval of a Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month Proclamation.
“We would like to promote drunk and drug awareness,” Burdick said. “At this time of year people like to get together with their families and some of them can’t be there due to drunk or drugged driving.”
He reported that although DUI arrests are down in Illinois from 29,528 in 2016 to 27,046 in 2017, there was an increase in deaths from drunk driving, from 272 killed in 2016 to 330 killed in 2017.He reported that 25% of all crash fatalities in Illinois were from impaired driving.
“Community based programs involving consumer education, effective laws, and strong enforcement presence have proven successful in reducing impaired driving,” Burdick reported.
There will be a Christmas tree in the lobby by the probation office with ribbons to commemorate those 330 killed.
Dennis Drnjevich asked Burdick about Shelby County statistics. Burdick said that Shelby County DUI arrests were down from 2015-2017. The board approved the motion, unanimously.
Shelby County State’s Attorney Gina Vonderheide made a annual request to approve the State’s Attorney Appellate Prosecutor Resolution. It allows for an appellate prosecutor to come in and handle a case where there is a conflict of interest. The board voted unanimously to approve.
County Tresurer Erica Firnhaber made her report. She said that the second disbursement of tax monies ($616,000) was recently made and the 3rd disbursement, the smallest, will be November 27.
She reported that payroll was $291,172 . She said that November is a 3 payroll month so the estimate will be about $400,000. She reported the county balance was $514,000, however, they spent $49,000 more than was taken in.
Firnhaber reported two parcels of land that had been on the tax rolls were sold by sealed bids. One parcel was sold to Brooks and Yvonne Wilson and the other to Larry and Nathan Parks. The board approved the resolution to deed those parcels.
County Engineer Alan Spesard had two petitions to be voted on. One was a request from Lakewood to replace a drainage structure at 850N/1300E about 3 1/2 miles southeast of Tower Hill. He said it was a rusted out culvert. The cost is $1500 to be split evenly between the county and the township. The board approved that.
The other petition was alos from Lakewood to replace another drainage structure at 700N/1600E about 5 miles north of Cowden. The cost would be $3000 and split between county and township. The board to appove.
Spesard had a resolution for a fuel contract. He reported that there was a bid on November 7. There were four bidders. The rceommendation was to go with the lowest bid from Effingham Equity, an estimate based on price per gallon, $112,932.
Board member Kenneth Barr asked who the second lowest bid was. Spesard said it was Miller Oil at $117,184.
Barr thought that companies that pay property taxes in Shelby County should have special consideration. He said his preference was to reject the recommended bid and go with the 2nd lowest bidder.
Dennis Drnjevich asked if that was possible to favor people from our own county and suggested that the matter be tabled. New member Bobby Orman said that other taxes are paid in Shelby County by companies headquartered in other counties.
A discussion on tax procedures and whether Effingham Equity pays tax to Shelby County on properties they own in Shelby County. Board member Bryon Coffman said that Effinfgham Equity has two plants in the county.
Spesard interjected that the bid did not express only those in Shelby County can bid. County board member Earl Baker suggested that the county cannot violate the open bid that was made.
“If we do, I see a lawsuit coming,” Baker said.
County board member David Swits made a motion to accept the bid. The voice vote was almost unanimous. Barr did not vote and Drnjevich voted nay.
Spesard also has an agreement to be voted on with an engineering company for a bridge in Ridge Township.
“The bridge is north of Henton and it would be paid for 80% from the state and the 20% split between the county and the township. The cost for the engineering fee is $46,000. The board approved unanimously.
Spesard also reported on the bridge construction on the township line between Ash Grove and Big Spring. He said it will not be done this year, but hopefully in the spring. Similarly, a bridge Windsor will not be completed this year, but probably in the spring.
Spesard also reported on an increase in money coming to the county.
“Budgets will be significantly higher by 68%,” Spesard said. “Due to the 19 cent tax on fuel. The Capital Bill SB 263 has not passed yet is for $1.5 million to be distributed over 3 years.”
Spesard the increase to needy townships of which Shelby County qualifies, would be up 68% next year. The County Consolidated Fund will also have an additional 68%.
“We usually get about $128,000, so it will go up by about $87,000,” Spesard said.
Spesard was asked by Coffman about a bridge in Flat Branch.
“It’s been closed about two years,” Spesard said. “The engineering firm has been held up on environmental approval because there is a creek that runs by there,” Spesard said. “It is planned to be done for next fall.”
During committee reports Earl Baker who is the new chairman of the airport committee has asked for the $15,000 levy for the airport to be back in, because of the loss of 55 acres of productive ground.
He asked if an attorney will be needed for a product reliability suit. A fuel meter at the airport is not working and the company is not willing to correct it.
“The Minnesota company said, ‘We are not going to do business in Illinois anyway.’,” Baker reported.
Baker said a helicopter landed and there fuel bill according to the meter was $4. When the helicopter got home the company said that wasn’t correct and estimated the correct cost and paid it to the airport.
Baker joked, “So, if you need fuel for your lawn mower come out to the airport and get some at 10 cents a gallon.”
He reported that the committee is looking fundraising ideas, to include a concert or putting in a restaurant.
“I don’t use it, but its a beautiful airport,” Baker said. “I asked about the grass runways we have and I was told the antique planes that fly in need grass runways.”
County Board Chairman Dave Cruitt suggested that Baker get with State’s Attorney Gina Vonderheide about that company not following through.
Two appointments were made to committees by the board. Rodney McClain was approved for a Findlay Fire Protection District Trustee. Jim Looft was appointed to the Health Board due to a vacancy by Odus Cheek.
During public comments, Penny Standerfer spoke on behalf of the Animal Shelter. She said that when there are ongoing cases of animal cruelty, the animals are housed at the shelter. When the cases drag on in the courts, it causes financial hardship on the shelter and reduces space for other animals.
One situation will cost the county over $8,000 in board and vet fees.
She said that she understands that the animals cannot be adopted out until due process is followed. However, she asked the county board to do what they could to influence laws that would speed up the process.
“We have puppies that have lived most of their lives in cages for 6 months waiting a court date,” Standerfer. “Welfare of the animals is another issue. There needs to be a law that we can only hold them so long.”
Board member Terry Metzger said he heard that the Animal Control Officer couldn’t go out and pick up a dog, because of overcrowding.
The motion to adjourn was interrupted by State Repesentative Brad Halbrook who invited the board to attend a informational meeting about increased farmland assessments on Monday, November 18 at 7 p.m. An expert in the field will be on hand to answer answer any farmland or other property tax questions.