County Board Approves Budget, Levy

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Published on November 18 2013 10:35 pm
Last Updated on November 18 2013 10:35 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

The Effingham County Board Monday approved the budget for the fiscal year beginning December 1 and passed the tax levy ordinance for the coming fiscal year.  As Board Chairman Jim Niemann quipped after the budget was approved and time for action on the levy arrived, "Now we have to pay for what we just passed."

The budget calls for less than $150 more in income than outgo, but it was balanced nonethless. The levy asks for exactly the same amount of money as last year's measure.

The Board approved a health insurance renewal with Health Alliance for the coming year that includes a 19.24% increase in premiums over the past year.  County Clerk Kerry Hirtzel reminded that there will be an employee signup period for health insurance this Wednesday.  Also approved was an agreement to offer dental, vision and life insurance coverage.  The employees pick up the entire cost of that coverage.

The Board approved a contract with the county highway department workers represented by the Teamsters Union and a contract with the clerical employees in the Public Defender's Office, with each including a 2.5% pay increase.  The goal is to get all of the employee contracts expiring close to the same date in hopes of cutting negotiating costs.  Board members also approved a 2.5% hike in pay for non-union county employees.

County Board members also approved the second year of a three-year agreement with CIRMA for property/casualty insurance coverage.  The coverage includes an 11.4% rate increase, but the firm picked up the cost of bonding county employees and the bonding cost is slightly less than with the previous firm.

The Board voted 6-3 against a $20 fee for Circuit Court filings with the proceeds going to CASA of Effingham County.  Instead, there was sentiment for a $30 fee on non-traffic cases.  The matter will be revisited in December, as members want to fine tune exactly when the fine would be imposed.

Board members renewed a 10-year agreement with the City of Effingham.  The County will continue to handle animal control complaints inside the city, and the City will continue to maintain the animal shelter.  The Board also approved a truancy agreement that will allow the County to take action against truants, but includes provisions to exempt private school or home schooled students.

The Board renewed an agreement with the State's Attorney's Appellate Prosecutor for another year for $11,000.  The service provides assistance with criminal cases that go on appeal or on cases where the local attorneys have a conflict.  The Board also appointed Ted Heath to replace Blair Jenson on the Health Board and reappointed Nick Althoff to another term on the County 911 Board.

Board members approved a resolution allocating $1,025,700 in Motor Fuel Tax funds for county road maintenance, approved a new salary resolution for County Engineer Greg Koester including a 2% increase, and approved an agreement where Federal funds will pay half the cost of Koester's salary.

The Board also honored Anna Sophia Keller for her state cross country championship and County Probation Officer Chris Winters for her award as Illinois Probation Officer of the Year.