Finances, animal control

Two recurring issues were discussed at Tuesday’s Fayette County Board meeting, one of those being an ongoing topic – the county’s finances.
The second issue is the handling of animals taken in by the veterinarian who has the county’s animal control contract.
During committee reports, County Treasurer Rose Hoover reported that she recently had to use $35,000 of the $250,000 in capital improvement funds she was given permission to use last month in order to meet the county’s obligations.
Hoover also said that she could be using up to $105,000 next week to meet payroll and pay other county bills if she does not receive reimbursements from the state by that time.
“Folks, it’s starting to get serious, dead serious,” board Chairman Steve Knebel said, referring to the board’s ongoing transfers from the capital improvement fund to pay county obligations.
“It’s time to do something.
“We gave her $250,000 last month, and she’s used half of this and we’re not even a month into it,” Knebel said.
“Do something, see where we’re going to go with this. We’ve got some projects coming up that’s going to cost a lot of money.
“It’s crunch time, time to make a decision,” Knebel said. “In another month, or maybe two months, we’ve got some decisions to make.”
He said that in addition to building projects, the county has some contract negotiations coming up “and more later on.
“Be prepared, folks,” Knebel said.
At the end of the meeting, the board heard from several people voice their concerns about the county’s animal control problem.
Serving as a spokesman for the group, Vandalia Alderman Neil Clark repeated concerns that he expressed at a council meeting last month.
Citing numbers received by Montgomery PAWS, an animal foster group in Montgomery County, from the Illinois Department of Agriculture, Clark told board members that during the period of 2010-12, 81 percent of animals taken in by the county’s animal control warden, Dr. Connie Heaton, were euthanized. For that same period, 5.8 percent of the animals taken in by Montgomery County were euthanized.
“What are we getting for our dollar?” Clark said about the county’s animal control contract.
“The results are rather disappointing,” he said. “We ask simply this – why?”
Karen Bennett, a Jacksonville resident and Vandalia native whose parents still live here, also spoke to the board.
“I understand that back in the day, when there weren’t rescues, there was little that could be done to control the animal population.
“Euthanasia was the standard; it doesn’t have to be that way anymore,” Bennett said.
“At this point, euthanasia should be the exception, not the rule; it is the rule in Fayette County,” she said.
Knebel said the issue will be discussed, and that it has been discussed in the past.
He said that it’s his understanding that when the issue of turning animals over to Second Chance Animal Resources, “they didn’t have the resources and the facility” to accept animals.
“Three years ago, was the offer there? I don’t believe it was,” he said. “If the resources are there, we should utilize them.
“If she (Heaton) is following state statute, that’s what we’re concerned with,” Knebel said.
“This has always been an issue in Fayette County. I think it’s a good thing to look at it, and we will look at it,” he said.
“I would like to see us get together with Mr. (James) Cloud (of Montgomery PAWS), Connie and a committee to see, absolutely, if we can work this out,” Knebel said.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting:
• The board approved the appointment of Marc Hortenstine to the District 1 county board seat vacated last month by the resignation of Loy Staff.
• The board approved the appointments of William R. Robison to the Brownstown Fire Protection District Board of Trustees and David Wasmuth to the Fayette County Hospital District Board.
• The board accepted the $4,500 bid from Westendorf Construction for improvements to the fencing of the Washington School building.
Board member Jeff Beckman, chairman of the board’s building and grounds committee, said that there has been vandalism to the west side of the building due to the lack of fencing.
He said the work includes repairing the existing fencing and creating two entrances on the east side, one for vehicles and one for walking traffic.
The Westendorf bid was the only one received by the county.
• The board voted to allow Hoover to use the following financial institutions to collect real estate and mineral taxes: First National Bank in Vandalia, Ramsey and Patoka; National Bank in Vandalia; Fayette County Bank in St. Elmo; Midland States Bank in Vandalia and Farina; First National Bank of Brownstown; and First State Bank of St. Peter.
• The board approved the low bid of $409,468 from Depew and Owen Builders of Centralia for the for the replacement of a bridge three miles north of Vandalia Correctional Center in Sharon Township.
• The board approved an agreement for federal participation with the Illinois Department of Transportation for rehabilitation of County Highway 14 east of Herrick.
• The board approved the low bid of $290,000 from Keller Construction Co. in Glen Carbon for the replacement of a bridge 1 ¾ miles south of Pittsburg on County Road 300 East.
• The board tabled action on the purchase of a new voter registration system from Platinum Technology Resources due to some issues with the proposed purchase agreement.
• The board approved a resolution to apply for a state Community Development Assistance Program grant on behalf of Fayette Water Co.
Jonathon Hallberg, executive director of the South Central Illinois Regional Planning and Development Commission, said the $450,000 grant project is for the extension of 22.2 miles of Fayette Water lines that will serve 109 homes in the northern part of Bear Grove Township.
• The board approved a road use agreement with Enbridge Pipelines for Enbridge’s project installing pipeline from Northern Illinois to Patoka.
The agreement includes a $10,000 initial payment to the county’s highway department “for costs directly associated with the management and implementation of this agreement.
It also calls for Enbridge to pay the county for any road repairs or restorations that become necessary as a result of Enbridge transporting heavy loads on county roads.
Local developer Charles Barenfanger voiced his support for the project, and the agreement with the county, said that the pipeline “is a very, very positive thing” for this area.


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