County board OKs new levee repair bond - Republic-Times | News

County board OKs new levee repair bond

By on September 9, 2015 at 11:48 am

The Monroe County Board on Tuesday approved a request by the Southwestern Illinois Flood Prevention District for the next step in restoring levee protection in Madison, St. Clair and Monroe counties.

Original support for this work came in 2010 when the three counties combined to approve a quarter percent sales tax to pay its share of the work to regain a 100-year level of protection. This was done to head off FEMA’s planned end of economical flood insurance for affected areas.

The 100-year level has almost been restored.

The levees were originally built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to protect the low-lying areas of the three counties from a flood event that might be expected every 500 years. This new bond would be a step toward restoring 500-year level protection.

The bond will be marketed under the same taxing authority. While the Flood Prevention District is authorized by three-county approval to seek up to $100 million from bonds, a somewhat lesser amount, about $70 million, is expected to be realized.

Both requests of this type and the annual budget of the Flood Protection District must be approved by the three counties annually.

In other news, Monroe County Engineer Aaron Metzger informed commissioners that the county has not received its share of the Motor Fuel Tax collected on fuel sold since July, when it received June’s installment due to the lack of a budget in the state of Illinois. Metzger said there is some movement for separate legislation to release the already collected funds from state coffers, but the timing is uncertain.

In addition, he noted that the state swept half a month’s funds earlier this spring, costing Monroe County some $18,000 dollars, with a similar shortage being levied on the county’s 10 road districts.  While the county has reserves to meet budgeted MFT costs to the end of 2015, it cannot make plans for using MFT funds for 2016 if they are not released by the end of the year.

Metzger noted that some poorer counties are already having to cease maintenance work due to these funds being withheld.

Monroe County Sheriff Neil Rohlfing sought and received approval to increase court costs dedicated to courthouse security, to $25 on each court case.  Fees currently run from $10 to $25. In the past, sheriff’s department personnel have been in the courthouse building only when court was in session.  Now, to increase security, a deputy is present in the building during all normal operations hours.  Results will be reviewed at the end of the year.

Rohlfing also told commissioners that if current county jail population continues at full or nearly full rates, there may be a need for additional jailors.

Sean Price of Solar City, a San Mateo, Calif., firm that partners with governments, corporations and homeowners to place solar electric panels in return for rental fees, discussed a proposal to install a 6.5-acre panel field at Oak Hill.

The solar panel field would supply electricity to the nursing facility at a fixed cost for 20 years. Several questions were posed by commissioners and Waterloo city electric representatives. Price promised to get back to them with more information as commissioners continue to examine the proposal.

Kaskaskia Regional Port District General Manager Ed Weilbacher updated commissioners on developments in the port district.

He noted that the Kaskaskia River has exceeded the baseline figure for federal support, of 1 million ton miles moved by barge for the last two years, reaching 1.4 million last year.
He also informed the commissioners about several positive developments, including commitments for growth along Route 15 and for new facilities for Gateway FS to build dry fertilizer and other crop chemicals facilities on land sold to them by the Port District at the junction of the river and Route 154. In addition, Egyptian Electric will add a new substation to serve those expansions.

An extensive list of reappointments to various groups was approved: Brian Mehrtens to the Columbia Drainage and Levee District; Eugene Sensel to the Stringtown Drainage and Levee District; Craig Ramsey to the Fish Lake Drainage and Levee District and Ran Kuergeleis to the Harrisonville Drainage and Levee District.

Appointed to the County Board of Health were Delbert Wittenauer, Jay Vogt, Barbara Wagner, Lyle Huffman, Dr. Mark Kirk, Tom Belt and Ellen Gates.

The commissioners will meet next on Monday, Sept. 21, at the courthouse. An agenda will be posted in advance at www.monroecountyil.org.

Alan Dooley

Alan is a photojournalist -- he both shoots pictures and writes for the R-T. A 31-year Navy vet, he has lived worldwide, but with his wife Sherry, calls a rambling house south of Waterloo home. Alan counts astronomy as a hobby and is fascinated by just about everything scientific.