County briefed on new budget

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Monday’s meeting of the Monroe County Board began with a request by outgoing Monroe County Assessment Board of Review member Daniel Schumer asking why he was not reappointed to another term and was being replaced by Brad Krueger – as was decided at the Nov. 4 meeting.

Schumer, who cited his record of public service, said he was not asked to consider reappointment and only learned he had been replaced via rumors and a letter that did not state why he was not considered for continuation. 

The change was reported in the Nov. 6 issue of the Republic-Times.

Monroe County Board Chairman Bob Elmore responded that Schumer had failed to attend meetings of the review board.

Monroe County Democratic Central Committee chairman Scot Luchtefeld supported Schumer at Monday’s meeting and told the Republic-Times later that Schumer had used vacation time from his regular job to attend meetings, but by the time the county’s property assessments were announced, he no longer had vacation time remaining. 

Krueger must still take and pass a state-administered qualifying exam, scheduled next week in Waterloo, before he can take a seat on the Board of Review.

Commissioner Ron Schultheis was unable to physically attend Monday’s meeting due to an ongoing medical issue, but participated and voted via cell phone.

Also at the meeting, Monroe County Treasurer Kevin Koenigstein provided a detailed preliminary overview of the proposed Monroe County budget for fiscal year 2020, which begins Dec. 1. 

While the proposed budget called for approximately $8.8 million against anticipated revenues of $8.4 million, Koenigstein said expected expenditures are actually at the $8.4 million point.

“But that leaves nothing to be set aside next year for future capital improvements,” he acknowledged.  

Budget hearings are slated for Monday to allow department heads to detail their budgets to the commissioners. A final vote to implement the new budget is expected to take place Dec. 2.

Koenigstein noted that this year, sales tax revenues have fallen for the first time in years, with the countywide one-fourth percent tax going down from $913,274 last year to $910,669 in 2019.

The one percent sales tax that comes to the county only for non-municipal areas has fallen from $464,624 to $438,749 in that same period. 

He indicated a possible explanation may be the number of people crossing into Missouri to buy gasoline since the July 1 gas tax increase and making other purchases while they are there.  

Concerning specific items, he said Monroe County EMS has asked for $126,000 to replace one of its ambulances next year.  

The new budget includes approximately $3.6 million for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department, which is an increase of $1 million from former Sheriff Dan Kelley’s final year (2014). It is noted the department has grown, adding a full-time deputy and fulltime jailor as well as taking over courthouse security with a deputy on duty during all hours the facility is open to the public, in addition to updating and replacing many items of equipment as the crime threat has grown throughout the county.

Monroe County Clerk Jonathan McLean received board approval to relocate two election precinct voting places in Columbia for the next election, which is the March 17 primary.  They are precincts 4 and 37 and both are moving to the Columbia American Legion, where they will join precincts 1 and 35.  The two precincts being moved were previously located individually, with Precinct 4 at Life Community Church and Precinct 37 at St. Paul United Church of Christ.

McLean said the American Legion facility offers better parking and accommodation for disabled voters. He also cited a savings from being able to purchase fewer voting machines, while being able to hold one set in reserve for any unanticipated difficulty. 

He said while there are no other polling place changes coming for the next rounds of voting, more may be in order in 2021 after the next national census is completed.

Monroe County Engineer Aaron Metzger said work on the Levee Road bridge across Carr Creek is now finished and the road is open for use.  Work was delayed by high water most of the summer. A final payment of $8,788.50 was approved by the board.

Metzger also was given approval to pursue funding to completely replace the Bluff Road bridge over Car Creek.  The work is eligible for federal funding through the Illinois Special Bridge Program.  The grant sought will be for approximately $1.6 million, for engineering, right-of-way acquisition and construction.  

Metzger noted the funding request is for work to start in or about 2025.

Oak Hill Director Kim Keckritz was accompanied by her compliance head Rachael Giffhorn, who was recently certified as a Certified Nursing Assistant instructor and who is heading up the first class of 10 student CNAs at Oak Hill. She noted they already have six applicants for the next round of CNA training scheduled to start in January.  

County zoning director Mike Fausz accompanied Monroe County Electric Cooperative President Alan Wattles to secure approval to rezone an 11-acre plot of land north of Old Red Bud Road and east of Route 3 from A-2 (agricultural) to B-2 (business).  Wattles said they had interest from an unidentified party in leasing part of the plot for future development.

A resolution reappointing Marge Francois of Waterloo to the Monroe County Assessment Board of Review for one year starting Dec. 1 was approved. 

The next county board meeting will be 8:15 a.m., Monday, Dec. 2 at the courthouse.

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