County still in the black

When it approved the county budget for the fiscal year that ended this month, the Fayette County Board was anticipating a positive balance of about $275,000.

Board members were pleasantly surprised on Tuesday to find that the surplus was more than three times that estimate.

In presenting the countys new budget in a hearing before Tuesdays board meeting, finance committee Chairman Lee Schaal said the $792,013 surplus at the end of this fiscal year like last year was the result of two things.

About half of it was due to increased revenues, and about half was due to our department heads watching their spending closely, Schaal said.

The increased revenues appeared to be mainly from traffic fines and the amount paid to the county for housing federal prisoners.

Board member Dean Bernhardt acknowledged that Sheriff Aaron Lay was involved in increasing the daily amount paid to the county for each prisoner from $40 to $68.

Thats a lot of extra money we have coming in, Bernhardt said.

The new budget approved by the board totals $9.79 million. I think youre probably looking at a $10-million budget next year, Schaal said.

The new budget has a positive balance of $378,288. Its down from where we are now, Schaal said, but were still in the black.

But its easy to spend more than we take in, so well have to watch that, he said.

Also at the meeting:

The board approved a new contract for county highway employees and a new one-year contract for Emergency Management Agency Coordinator Steve Koehler.

Steve Knebel, chairman of the boards personnel and insurance committee, said the new contract with the Laborers International Union of North America, Local 1197, provides for 4 -percent pay increases in each of the next two years and a 3-percent hike in the third year.

It also includes some step increases, in five-year increments, Knebel said.

The new contract with Koehler calls for the EMA coordinator to be paid $13,970 in the coming year. It represents a 4 -percent salary increase.

Fayette County Health Department Administrator Jan Forbes reported that the Nov. 2-3 tire collection held by the FCHD and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency netted an estimated 11,164 tires, or 111 tons.

The board approved the appropriation of $536,800 from the countys Motor Fuel Tax fund for road maintenance in 2008.

The board approved an agreement with the Illinois Department of Transportation for the replacement of a bridge over Hickory Creek 1.7 miles west of St. James in Wheatland Township. The total project cost is $208,950, with the countys share being $17,790.

The board also approved an IDOT agreement for the replacement of a bridge over Little Creek four miles northeast of Ramsey. That project will cost $258,750, with the county paying $16,550.

The board approved a dues payment of $2,105 to the South Central Illinois Growth Alliance.

The board approved a request from the county employees to close the courthouse from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 13, for the employee Christmas party.

County Treasurer Rose Hoover reported that her office mailed out the first distribution of tax monies on Oct. 15. The amount collected for that period was $9,439,949.97.

County Supervisor of Assessments Cindi Lotz reported that the county should be receiving within the next month the aerial photographs of the county that were taken in the spring. The photographs will be part of the countys assessment system.

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