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County OKs fund transfer, warns of personnel cuts

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By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

A month ago, Fayette County Board members turned down yet another fund transfer to meet payroll and other expenses, saying they needed to come up with an alternative way to deal with ongoing shortfalls.
But, on Tuesday, they approved another $250,000 transfer from the capital improvement fund to meet August obligations, which has included three payrolls.
One of the issues, board Chairman Steve Knebel pointed out prior to the transfer vote, is that they have recently learned that interfund loans must be paid back.
In recent years, the board has moved more than $1 million from the capital improvement fund to the general fund to meet payroll and pay other expenses.
All but one of those were loans, the other being a permanent transfer.
“That must be paid back, so we have to find a way to pay it back,” Knebel said.
After transferring the funds this month, he said, the county will begin receiving property tax money in September, meaning it will have sufficient funds to meet all obligations.
“(But) that’s supposed to be for next year, of course,” he said.
Vice Chairman Jeff Beckman asked, “How do we pay this (money) back? So, what do we do the next time this comes up?
“Something’s got to give. We’ve got to have a plan to pay this back.”
Knebel said he didn’t have an answer. “There are no new revenues coming in to pay for this shortfall.”
Wade Wilhour, chairman of the insurance and personnel committee said, “I think there is a solution.
“We’ve cut everything else … department heads have cut everything else,” he said. “It’s going to be personnel.
“We don’t like it, (but) that’s what department heads are going to be asked to do,” Wilhour said.
Knebel said that in preparing the next budget for the county, “We will not even consider using that (capital improvement) to balance the budget.
“If revenues come up short, we will have to look at Wade’s suggestion,” Knebel said.
“We knew it was coming – you can’t spend more than you bring in,” he said.
Also on Tuesday, the board approved the renewal of a liquor license for the Lake House, a restaurant on Vandalia Lake.
The renewal of the license was approved without dissent or discussion one year after the board approved the issuance of a license in a 7-6 vote.
It was approved on the board’s third request for approval of a license application, with board members opposed to the issuance citing a dispute over the legality of the restaurant to operate on the city lake.
The matter is pending in a lawsuit filed by the city of Vandalia.
In other matters:
• The board approved the renewal of an agreement with the Fayette County Health Department through which the FCHD provides an Emergency Management Agency coordinator through June 30 of next year.
• The board approved an ordinance adopting a resolution passed in January 1987 on the county’s maintenance and child support fee.
That resolution set the fee at $36, and Assistant State’s Attorney Amanda Ade-Harlow said that Tuesday’s action simply puts the fee issue into ordinance form.
• The board approved an ordinance for the annual peopleware agreement, for the real estate recording system in the county clerk’s office. The cost of the support service is $6,970.
• The board approved an ordinance regulating the licensing and regulating games of chance, and establishing a system for the licensing and regulating of poker runs,
Knebel explained that while the state can issue a license for poker runs, counties may also issue such a license. While the state license could cost several hundred dollars, Fayette County can set its fee at $25.
Ade-Harlow explained that the county board approved a raffle ordinance in 1989, then deleted that ordinance by a motion approved several years later. But, she said, that action would have to be taken by another ordinance vote.
The 1989 action, she said, is still in effect, but needed to be updated.
The county had the option of continuing to set the fee at $1 per $1,000 of raffle items or set a flat fee. The board opted for the option of a $50 fee.
• The board approved an Illinois Department of Transportation agreement for the replacement of a bridge four miles southeast of Ramsey over Ash Creek in Ramsey Township.
• The board approved a proposal from Croxford and Co. to have the Alton firm continue to perform the county’s audit. The fee is $32,500, an increase of $1,000 over the fee for the last audit.
• The board agreed to send a letter allowing South Central FS to put an anhydrous facility on its property.
• During the public comment section, brothers Neil and B. John Clark, both aldermen on the Vandalia City Council, presented to the board suggestions from Vandalia native Karen Bennett on issues with animal control in the county.
Knebel said that to deal with concerns about animal control, county board members will meet with the county’s animal control warden, Dr. Connie Heaton.
• At the start of the meeting, the board observed a moment of silence for Morgan Pryor Sr., a Brownstown resident who served on the county board from 2000-06.