County Working to Make Accommodation for Shimkus Office

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Published on December 13 2012 9:27 pm
Last Updated on July 14 2013 4:07 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

John Shimkus' Congressional district territory is changing when the new Congress convenes in January and that means his Congressional offices will be relocated.

One of those offices will now be located in Effingham.  Representatives for Shimkus' office have talked with both City and County officials about space in their facilities and an offer of free rent by the County has the staffers looking at locating in the County Office Building.

A consideration is the offices now located in the County Office Building that could be displaced by the Shimkus office.  One area looked over by the Shimkus representatives is the space now used by CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), whose volunteers are appointed by the Court to represent young people in difficult family situations.

County Board Chairman Jim Niemann said the Shimkus representatives liked the CASA office and said initial reaction by CASA Executive Director Libby Moeller and Judge Kimberly Koester was favorable to relocating to the County Government Center.  Since then, some concerns have been raised by CASA supporters since space in the Government Center would not be available at night when CASA holds many meetings due to the work schedules of their volunteers.

At Thursday's County Board Tax and Finance Committee meeting, other options to accommodate Shimkus' office were reviewed including space elsewhere on the third floor of the County Office Building.  Niemann said, though, that Shimkus officials would like to have a decision by the end of the month.  The issue is expected to be reviewed at Monday's meeting of the full County Board.

CASA staff member Jesse Patenaude said it's more convenient for their office to be located where it is, but said the agency is grateful for any space they're provided.

Also Thursday, committee members discussed a proposal by Animal Control Officer Brent Budde to establish a local pet population control fund that would make money available to help low-income residents pay to have their pets spayed or neutered to control the pet population.  The funds would come from dollars now sent to Springfield.  County officials, though, say they aren't aware that any funds are going to the State that could go to the fund.

County Board Vice-Chairman Dave Campbell asked whether any more funding is available to the Dive Rescue Team.  Campbell suggested that fees Dive Rescue generates when handling out of county calls could be diverted to Dive Rescue to supplement their income.  Other county officials suggested that if Dive Rescue exhausts their budget, they should then approach the Board for additional dollars with an eye toward those revenues they generate.

Sheriff's deputy Thad Brockett suggested that when a vehicle is recovered from a body of water, a fine can be assessed for the vehicle polluting that body of water, so the fine money could go to Dive Rescue.

Tax and Finance Committee Chair Rob Arnold reported he wants County department heads to develop one-year, five-year and 10-year budget projections to help the County be proactive on budgeting rather than reactive.

Sheriff John Monnet discussed his goal of having an outdoor flag placed at or on the County Government Center.  Monnet said government buildings should have a flag placed outside or on their facilities, and there is not one at or one the Government Center.

Campbell also reported that he'd been approached by some county employees who wondered whether the County would be offering an early retirement incentive to save money with newer employees who would be paid less.