County receives clean audit

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Keith Slusser and Curtis Stoll of the Fick Eggemeyer & Williamson CPA group gave a report about a recent audit of the county’s finances and accounting during Monday’s meeting of the Monroe County Board of Commissioners.

Stoll gave the county a “clean audit opinion,” meaning there were no discrepancies or inconsistencies found in the county ledgers.

One area of note was the inclusion of American Rescue Plan Act funds received by Monroe County in 2021. 

The $3.3 million in “restricted funds” from the past year and the expected disbursement in 2022 will on paper “will look like deficit spending,” although it is just a function of spending down ARPA funds.

Slusser noted there is some work to be done in regard to grant tracking, but he added the county treasurer’s office has  “good plan moving forward.”

Due to ARPA funding being disbursed at the state level, there was some confusion in different county departments about which grants should be reported as federal and which were state grants. 

Elizabeth Smith-Thomas of the treasurer’s office explained the county had never exceeded the threshold to require grant auditing until recovery funds related to COVID relief began to come into the county.

She also said the first year of grant tracking by the treasurer’s office has provided insight into necessary steps needed to account for the grants for future audits.

The audit report also showed a decrease in county liabilities from $5.5 in 2018 to $2 million in 2020. 

Another significant expense will be off the books after 2025 as the “debt service” payments on the building of the county-owned Oak Hill senior living facility will be paid.

Earlier in the meeting, Oak Hill Administrator Shari Kruep gave her monthly report to the board. 

She said while the facility’s census is not at the level of the 2022 budget, it is exceeding 2021 budget numbers.

Kruep also said there were four residents at Magnolia Terrace and one employee who tested positive for COVID, but symptoms for all individuals were minor.

She said the facility is beginning to have gatherings for residents, employees and their families, but Oak Hill is “not ready to open to the public just yet.”

Board chairman Dennis Knobloch thanked Kruep for her timeliness in submitting financial records.

In other business, commissioners approved a resolution supporting extension of the Rock City Tax Increment Finance District in Valmeyer for 12 more years.

This extension requires support by all taxing bodies within the district and requires state legislative approval.

Knobloch abstained from voting due to his involvement with the village.

The Valmeyer Village Board as a taxing body in the district approved a similar resolution at its meeting last Tuesday.  

The only entity which has not voted to approve extending the district is Southwestern Illinois College. 

Knobloch later told the Republic-Times he expects action on the matter during SWIC’s next business meeting, adding the village will reach out to SWIC if nothing has been decided within the next couple of weeks.

The county board also approved rezoning property at David Scott Drive just off Route 156 west of Waterloo. The board approved rezoning the property from R-1 residential to A-1 agricultural use to allow owners Doug and Tracy Simms to grow flowers for commercial use. 

The Simmses said the rezoning will allow them to improve the soil on the property and begin growing flowers for delivery to local florists.

In other county zoning business, a public hearing will be held June 2 during the Monroe County Planning Commission meeting  to discuss rezoning a parcel of land on the east side of Route 3 near Kaskaskia Road.

The meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the courthouse. 

Jim Lansing, as a representative of the Palmier Cemetery Board, began Monday’s meeting with a public recognition of the commissioners thanking them for their support with the efforts to maintain the cemetery.

“This is the best the cemetery has looked in years,” Lansing said, adding he wanted his comments entered into the public record rather than simply sending in a thank you card.

Knobloch in return thanked Lansing and the board as well as Aaron Metzger and Scott Scheibe for their work at the cemetery.

The next meeting of the Monroe County Board will be Tuesday, June 7, beginning at 8:15 a.m.

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