While many taxing entities are raising taxes in coming years, Monroe County will reduce taxes attributable to operations of the county government in 2013, which will be paid next year.
First, the final payment on bonds financing a refurbishing of the old courthouse building after the new addition was built, the county annex was completed and Regional Office of Education moved out was paid in 2013. The last amount was $97,340.
Second, in 2008, when Monroe and several other counties withdrew from the Illinois Counties Insurance Trust after that group exercised poor management of reserve funds, the county was obligated to issue bonds to wipe out debt attributed to ICIT. A reserve insurance fund was established to enable the county to save costs by employing more self-insurance in the future.
This year, payments of some $185,843 to retire the debt attributable to ICIT can prudently be taken from the insurance reserve, according to Monroe County Treasurer Kevin Koenigstein. This will leave $128,140 for that item to be paid from current taxes in 2014.
Thus, taxes from the county alone will be $283,183 lower for tax year 2013. While the county’s part of the overall property tax rate will be lower, other elements of the property tax — such as schools and fire districts — are not known at this time.
At Monday’s county board meeting, county zoning director Mike Fausz reported that work to allow a 150-foot free standing communications tower off Bluff Road near Miles Cemetery has been completed. A question of possible impact on the appearance of the historic cemetery has been cleared with the cemetery board, and AT&T will be allowed to begin construction of the tower.
Also at the meeting, Monroe County Ambulance Service Director Carla Heise reported that the new ambulance vehicle will be delivered next Monday. Radio and other equipment must still be installed before the ambulance can be certified by the state for service. Heise expects that to occur about May 1.
Monroe County Highway Engineer Aaron Metzger presented his plan for purchases of stone chip material for road maintenance. The plan consolidates projected needs both for county and road district uses. As much as 3,176 tons of materials will be contracted for possible pick-up at the Columbia Quarry Company, with an additional 1,500 tons from Bluff City Minerals in Prairie du Rocher.
Several factors, including mileage, projected locations for use and traffic patterns went into determining the 70-30 split.
Metzger also said $9,200 will be set aside for design of a new bridge at the Long Lake Road tributary to Maeystown creek crossing. Design work will be done by Oates Associates of Collinsville.
Finally, Metzger said the county is applying for a state grant of $75,000 to fund the proposed project to enclose the back-up generator at the courthouse. Work will not be held up pending the grant decision and the state’s share would be receivable even after work is finished.
Commissioners also received an update on the Monroe-Randolph County Transit District. In eight years, usage has grown dramatically. In 2006, the service provided 1,425 trips, a figure growing to 33,882 last year. Cost per trip has consequently dropped significantly in that period.