County OKs proposal for new, improved website

The Fayette County Board on Tuesday took action designed to provide the county with a website that is both more informational and more useful for county residents.
The board accepted a proposal from Civic Plus, a company that specializes in the design, development and maintenance of government-run websites.
The county will pay Civic Plus $4,500 through a three-year contract that includes a fourth-year option for $551. Civic Plus, which is based in Manhattan, Kan., and has an office in St. Louis, has contracts with numerous municipalities in Illinois and Missouri.
Assistant State’s Attorney Amanda Ade-Harlow told board members that the first step taken by the company will be gaining access to the county’s current website, which is locked, and migrating the information there to a new website.
Civic Plus will also update the information available on the current site, and teach three county employees how to make updates in the future, Ade-Harlow said.
The contract also calls for the company to make significant improvements to what the county currently offers online, she said, with those additions making it possible for people to do business with the county using their home computers or mobile devices.
For example, the website will include links that people can use to pay fines, court fees and property taxes, Ade-Harlow said.
The website will also allow the circuit clerk’s office to inform potential jurors when they are to report for duty, and the county can notify residents of such things as courthouse closings due to bad weather, she said.
The sheriff’s office, Ade-Harlow said, can post jail visiting hours and rules, and provide links to the Illinois State Police, Department of Children and Family Services, a website that lists sex offenders, and a site related to cyber crimes.
The supervisor of assessments office, she said, will be able to provide their documents, including property tax appeal board forms, and information online.
“We’re just making it easier for people to use the services of the county,” Ade-Harlow said.
“It allows for increased services while reducing the cost of residents who now must travel to the courthouse to use those services,” she said.
Three firms submitted proposals, Ade-Harlow told board members, but Civic Plus provides more hours of service on a daily basis, as well as 24-hour emergency service.
Other firms would charge additional fees for that extra service, she said.
Also at the meeting, the board approved the implementation of three types of court fees, and increased a court fee already being charged to those using the court system.
At the recommendation of State’s Attorney Joshua Morrison and Ade-Harlow, the board agreed to charge drug court, mental health court and teen court fees.
Ade-Harlow said that this county is already participating in the drug and teen courts, and that fees paid by people using the court system will allow continued participation.
The drug court fee is $5, and the mental health court fee is $10.
“This helps offset our fees to send our individuals through the drug court (in Effingham County),” Ade-Harlow said.
The teen court fee of $5 will help fund the system through which some cases are processed with juvenile offenders going before “jurors of their peers,” she said.
The purpose of the teen court, Ade-Harlow said, “is to help stop them from having further juvenile issues with the law, and it seems to be working.”
Fayette County’s participation in a mental health court, which includes a veterans court, includes the use of psychologists and counselors.
Implementing this fee “puts (the cost of that court) on the backs of (court system) users instead of the taxpayers,” Ade-Harlow said.
The board approved, as allowed by state statute, an increase in the automation and document storage fee from $15 to $25.
The revenue generated from that fee helps pay for equipment and personnel used to scan and store files for all cases handled by the circuit clerk’s office.
That includes the scanning of all paper files that have been filed in the past.
Also at the meeting, the board voted to transfer $95,378.50 from the county’s capital improvement fund to the county bridge fund for a stream bank stabilization project on the Herrick blacktop at Beck’s Creek.
It also approved the low bid of $95.378.50 from Nokomis Excavating and Trucking Inc. for that project.
Board Chairman Steve Knebel said the board feels that this is an important project for the county to fund because of the importance of that road to the village of Herrick and that entire part of the county.
In other action on Tuesday:
• The board approved the reappointment of Robert Buzzard as a commissioner on the Diveley Levee and Drainage District for three years, with the term ending in August 2017.
• The board approved switching from MetLife to Guardian for dental and vision coverage for county employees.
Jamie Simmons of the Simmons Group explained that with the switch, the fee for dental coverage goes away entirely, and the vision coverage fee drops by $6 per employee, with the two resulting in a decreased cost of about $7 per employee, he said.
The board also, at Simmons’s recommendation, switched over to Guardian for life insurance coverage.
The approval of the changes is contingent upon the approval of unions representing county employees.
• The board accepted the $5,449 bid from Triple A Asbestos Services for the removal of material containing asbestos from the boiler room at the county jail. That was the only bid received by the county.
• The board accepted the low bid of $45,900 from Double D Plumbing in Vandalia for the design build project at the jail for the boiler and water heater replacement project.
• The board accepted the proposal from Croxford & Co. of Alton for the circuit clerk’s audit and budget work. The county will pay the firm $4,200 for the audit and $2,700 for work on the county budget.
• The board agreed to send a letter of support for TRiO/Student Support Services at Kaskaskia College.
• County Treasurer Rose Hoover reported that her office had completed its first distribution of tax monies to taxing entities, $13,050,820.40.

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