County talks dispatching, EMS, warrants

The Monroe County Board met in regular session Monday morning and passed several items relating to county dispatch, emergency medical services and search warrant protocol.

The first item approved was an intergovernmental agreement for dispatch services the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department provides to the Waterloo Police Department. The three-year contract will provide an annual payment increase of 15 percent in the first year, 10 percent in the second year and 9 percent in the third year.

The Waterloo City Council approved the measure on behalf of the police department at its meeting Monday night.

The county board also approved an amendment to an existing contract for a wage increase for Monroe County EMS ambulance service staff wages. 

Monroe County Board Chairman Dennis Knobloch said the increases are an effort to provide an “ability to retain” staff.

The changes only affect full-time EMS employees. Knobloch recommended Monroe County Ambulance Director Carla Heise look into revising part-time wages to maintain an expected level of service for the county.

“For right now we have in hand full-time wages that have been revised and agreed upon, so let’s get that much done and then we can look at the part-time (wages),” Knobloch said.

Commissioners also approved an expenditure of funds to make necessary repairs to the Monroe County EMS headquarters in Waterloo. Heise reported the base needed updates to furniture, workout equipment, kitchen equipment, doors and other aspects of the ambulance garage that need updating. 

Funds for these improvements will be pulled either from the restricted surplus in the county ambulance fund or through any leftover funds in the EMS budget. 

Knobloch also advised Heise that any needed request for updates and repairs be brought to the board in a timely manner. Heise explained this is the first time the county has been asked for funds for the EMS headquarters as an EMS foundation had taken care of such requests prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Heise agreed to get a status report about the base from EMS personnel during monthly staff meetings.  

In another action item, the board approved implementation of a SaaS (Software as a Service) agreement for a video court software program to be utilized by the Monroe County State’s Attorney’s office in an attempt to streamline search warrant approval.

Monroe County State’s Attorney Lucas Liefer said this new system will allow search warrants to be approved after regular court hours without requiring Liefer or Monroe County Resident Circuit Judge Chris Hitzemann to travel to the courthouse to draft and sign a warrant.

Liefer said he hoped the program would encourage municipal and county law enforcement officers to request more warrants in the late night and early morning hours.

Liefer specifically mentioned stops involving known repeat-offender DUI traffic stops at late hours as a primary use of the new software, although such instances would not be the only use of the system. 

He further explained the virtual warrant process would streamline approval for blood draws or other DUI tests for individuals who refused to submit breathalyzer or field sobriety tests.

The system could also be used for any other time-sensitive warrant requests needed after normal courthouse hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

The board approved purchasing the system, which will cost $3,500 to install initially with a $3,000 annual renewal fee.

The board also OK’d Monroe County Treasurer Kevin Koenigstein’s request to amend his office’s investment policy regarding American Rescue Act Funds.

With recent increases in interest rates, Koenigstein said he felt ARPA funds not scheduled for disbursement  within a six month to one year window would be better served as an investment in the Illinois Public Reserves Investment Management Trust, which is currently offering significantly higher interest rates than banks.

The treasurer’s office as a rule uses local banks for any county government fund deposits. Koenigstein said the policy amendment would apply solely to ARPA funds, adding that a number of counties in the state had enacted similar measures for those specific funds.

Also during the meeting, Monroe County Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Edie Koch addressed the board to ask about the county’s annual investment renewal and provide an update on the agency’s work during the past year.

Knobloch explained to Koch the county’s funding request is already scheduled for September, and any further funding requests should be discussed later in the year when the 2023 fiscal year budget is being developed. 

During her status report, Koch noted a number of projects, including ongoing administration of the multi-county business enterprise zone,  continued effort to establish county involvement in the Southwestern Illinois Development Authority through state legislation and recently hosting five companies from South Korea with an interest in expanding in Monroe County.

Monroe County Engineer Aaron Metzger also addressed the board to report a resurfacing award for Road District 6 funding work near Andy Road. 

He also noted a culvert would be replaced Thursday on Fountain Road at Herbst Road, requiring a road closure from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.  Motorists are asked to use an alternate route during this time.  

Metzger addressed an article in last week’s Republic-Times concerning a railroad crossing at Bluff and Outlet roads near Maeystown. He said the idea that the county has done all it can at the intersection is not entirely accurate. 

Metzger said the highway department and railroad company are “continuing to monitor” the situation, adding that some incidents at the crossing are never reported. 

He clarified by saying a possible realignment would be a “major project” and it is not currently on the department’s “radar.” 

“There are things that can be done, it’s just, who’s going to do it?” Metzger said, adding that a project of that magnitude would take two to three years to complete.

Knobloch said it is the “worst design they ever could have come up with, those two crossings that both cross at an angle,” adding it “has been a problem for 60-plus years.”

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Scott Woodsmall

HTC web