(CAMBRIDGE)- The Henry County Board met Thursday, August 23 and heard from Auditor Matt Beran of Lauterbach and Amen. Beran said that the county had “very healthy fund balances,” and his management letter identified few areas of concern. The one that stood out the most was the monitoring of grant funding. The auditing firm asked for tighter tracking and reporting of those expenditures.
Four funds were found to be in deficit, “but none significantly so.” The one most short, by about $12,000, was a Regional Office of Education pass through fund.
Henry County Economic Development Director, Jim Kelly, reported to the Board about his first 45 days in office, which included many meetings with political, business, and civic leaders to determine their “wants and wishes.” He also has been an active cheerleader for businesses and individuals to relocate to Henry county, or expand, citing “Illinois is the greatest state in the country and Henry County is a great place to live.”
Mr. Kelly said farmers in the county are looking at growing industrial hemp as a cash crop. That legislation was championed by State Rep. Dan Swanson (R- Alpha). Mr. Kelly is also in charge of the county's rural revolving loan fund, which he said has not granted a loan since May 28, 2018. He wants to help fund new and growing businesses locally.
Board member Bill Preston (R-Geneseo) gave a report on his efforts working with outside agencies to bring benefits back to Henry County. He highlighted the work of Project NOW, of Kewanee, which serves all of Henry County. Mr. Preston said the group has “weatherized 55 homes and helps with heating bills” for low and moderate income families.
Jan May (D-Kewanee) Chairman of the Health Committee, reported that Administrator Lorna Brown will be retiring in November. The search for a replacement starts in earnest shortly.
Shawn Kendall (R-Galva) is Chairman of Public Safety, and he indicated that the July public safety sales tax receipts were $146,683. This enabled the purchase of two new squad cars, now five of six needed, have been funded.
Kelli Parsons (R-Kewanee), the Finance Chairman, reported that County Clerk Barb Link (D-Orion) had secured a new $24,070 voter registration system, entirely through federal and state grant monies. Ms. Parsons also introduced a bill to increase salary line items in the Office of Emergency Management (OEM). It passed unanimously after Board Chairman Marshall Jones (R-Kewanee) said, “We have an excellent OEM Manager (Mat Schnepple).”
During finance discussions Dwayne Anderson (R-Lynn Center) expressed concerns that there were many expenditures increasing in the county. Ms. Parsons assured the Board that county spending was closely watched and managed. She invited members and the public to attend upcoming Budget hearings in the 3rd Floor conference room at the Courthouse, including September 3 at 3 PM, September 4 at 5 PM, and, if necessary, September 9 at 3 PM.
Board members Erik Brown (R-Geneseo) and Jacob Waller (R-Geneseo) were absent.
The Cambridge FFA was recognized by the Board for being the "State Premier Chapter" by the Illinois FFA. Picture by FFA Advisor Trent Tabor.