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Board approves Courthouse improvements

Tom Latonis

Breeze-Courier Writer (TAYLORVILLE) — Thanks to money from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), several major improvement to the Christian County Courthouse were approved by the Christian County Board on Tuesday night during their regular meeting. Plans were approved to equip the historic 1856 structure with a new heating, air conditioning and ventilation system and to design a plan to replace the windows of the building.

Cost of the system has a $525,000 price tag with another 12% ($35,500) added for engineering fees for a total expenditure of $588,000. There was no cost estimate for the window replacement, but Bill Kennedy, engineer, was asked to come up with the plan.

While the ARPA was intended as relief to government agencies for COVID-19 concerns, under the rules, the county is allowed to spend the money for other

projects. The county was allotted $6.2 million.

In a 7-6 vote, Board members approved a dollar an hour salary increase for Assistant Animal Control Director Dwanna Kelmel from $15.88 per hour to $16.88. There had been debate in a pair of Board committees as to the amount of the hourly salary and whether

to make the job an hourly or salaried position.

Venice McWard, chairman of the Finance Committee, reported to the full Board the hourly rate would come to a yearly expenditure of $35,110. This would allow the employee to get overtime. Making it a salaried position would set the yearly salary at $35,568 and not be eligible for overtime. McWard said it was her opinion the position should be salaried.

The matter came to the Finance Committee after the Executive, Personnel, Liquor and Legislative Committee had recommended to make the position an hourly pay rate. It was the job of the Finance Committee to set that rate.

In the end, McWard, Matt Wells, Linda Curtin, Ken Franklin, Bev Graham and Vicki McMahon voted “no,” with David Puccetti, Ray Koonce, Bryan Sharp, Dale Livingston, Gene Price and Chuck Smedley voting “yes.” Members Tim Carlson, Craig Corzine and Mike Specha were absent.

The matter of hiring and Environmental Educator was tabled until the April meeting of the Executive and Personnel Committee meeting. It was argued since Vince Harris, the newly appointed director of the Solid Waste Office, should be hiring for the position and not the Board. Debbie LaVault is resigning from the position as of Feb. 22, 2022. It is the same date as the retirement of Solid Waste Director Joe Stepping.

Bids for the cat room addition to the Animal Control Building was also tabled until next month. Several members of the Board “Wanted to see in black and white” where the funds were coming from for the project. Harris, Animal Control Director, said there was a combination of funds including an anonymous donor and a trust fund for animal control.

The vote was 9-4 to table with Thomas Snyder, Jr., Wells, Franklin and Livingston voting “no” to table.

In other actions, the Board voted to purchase a system which will allow county and municipal police departments to generate citations digitally. The first year of operation will cost almost $129,000, with the funding coming from the ARPA Fund.

A vote to withdraw from the West Central Illinois Development Council was unanimously approved.

Changes to an ordinance regulating carbon capture and storage was tabled to allow Zoning Officer Harris to make “three or four chances” to the draft document. Those changes were not detailed and the ordinance was not available to the public.

An ordinance for the county to participate in public transportation was passed. The joint agreement includes Christian, Montgomery, Moultrie, Clay and Fayette counties, through CEFS, provides transportation to all residents of the county.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:22 p.m. Next meeting of the Christian County Board isTuesday,Mar.15,2022at 6:30 p.m.

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