6-5 vote

The Fayette County Board last Tuesday approved a new tax levy that gives the county an additional $36,000 in the coming fiscal year, but only by the narrowest of margins.
The board approved the $2.215-million tax levy in a 6-5 vote, with board members John Daniels Jr., Troy Pattillo, Darrell Schaal, Dean Bernhardt, Joe Kelly and Glen Gurtner voting for it, and Wade Wilhour, Glen “Whitey” Daniels, Chairman Jeff Beckman, Jake Harris and Jean Finley casting dissenting votes. Keith Cole, John Blythe and Chad Austin were not present.
Of those voting against the levy, only Wilhour and Beckman voiced their concerns, with Wilhour saying that he opposed a levy that asked residents for more tax money.
As Wilhour mentioned an increase in the levy, County Clerk Vicky Conder and Vice Chairman Darrell Schaal pointed out that the levy is the same as the one for the past fiscal year.
Schaal told Wilhour that the change in the levy total is due to an increase in the county assessed valuation.
Wilhour said, “It’s a tax increase of $36,000, no matter how you want to look at it.
“It doesn’t mean that you’ve got to raise taxes just because you get a different assessment,” he said. “You can still lower your levy amount.
“Are you OK with an increase? Because I’m not,” Wilhour said.
Schaal and Bernhardt contended that such increases help to address increases in expenses that the county incurs.
Wilhour responded by saying that there are ways to control expenses. “We’ve got the power of the purse,” he said.
“If you don’t like a contract, this is our recourse,” Wilhour said.
Beckman said he opposed passage of the levy because, “I’m reluctant to even cover this (levy passage) with a budget not being done, asking for an increase without knowing what the budget’s going to be. We don’t know where we’re going to be.”
On the budget, Beckman reported during the finance committee report that the county had received its financial information from its auditor earlier in the day, and that the committee is ready to work on the budget.
“We still have some issues to deal with,” Beckman said. “It doesn’t look good.
“I don’t think that a lot of people understand the seriousness of this,” he said.
He said that the federal government is $18 trillion in debt and that Illinois ranks 50th in the nation with its financial condition. “And it all rolls down hill to us,” he said.
“We’re trying to get this finance thing squared up ASAP now that we have our financial information.
“We’re going to continue to look at anything and everything,” Beckman said. “We may have to think a little outside the box.”
Also at the meeting:
• The board approved the reappointment of Sharon Tedrick Jorandby as a commissioner of the Diveley Levee and Draining District for a three-year term.
• The board approved the reappointment of Ernie Chappel and Kenneth Hall as trustees of the Union Cemetery Association for six-year terms.
• The board approved the county’s share (estimated to be $50,000) for the replacement of a bridge on County Road 3200 North, 3½ miles north of Ramsey in Ramsey Township.
• The board approved a contract with Kevin and Liz Elam to seal the courthouse parking lot, at a cost of about $10,000.
• The board approved an ordinance regulating the use and issuance of licenses for amusement games and music machines.
• The board approved a request from the county employees to close the courthouse from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. for the employees’ Christmas party.

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