County officials concerned about $500,000 deficit

Margi Washburn
View from a hot-air balloon, Henry County Courthouse, Cambridge

Despite all Henry County departments coming in under budget for the past fiscal year, the county still faces a $500,000 deficit, which concerns members of the county board.

At the board’s July 13 meeting, elected officials offered suggestions as to ways to cut expenses, but no recommendations were officially made or passed.

Pat Ripperger, chairman of the county’s finance committee, said some county board members voluntarily gave up their per diems and mileage to help the county’s finances.

Of the 24 members on the county board, 21 participated. The per diem savings was $2,760 and the mileage savings was $238.

Ripperger said one board member also gave up all of her pay from board and committee meetings for a full fiscal year.

At the July 13 meeting, board members also:

• Learned $34 million in real estate taxes has been collected. Of those funds, 96 percent have been distributed to taxing bodies in the county.

• Voted to spend up to $108,161 for repairs to the courthouse clock tower.

• Discussed the reinsurance renewal of the healthcare plan. Tom Steele, chairman of the administration committee, said the committee recommended Mutual Medical Insurance as they submitted a bid that would give them the most for the money. Steele noted there would be no interruption in coverage. The recommendation passed 18-2.

• Learned the county will receive the services of a first-year law student intern from the University of Illinois Prosecutor Fellowship Program. The internship will last eight months, and the student must pass the bar before beginning work. The county will only have to pay the intern’s workman’s compensation and liability insurance.

• Unanimously approved changing the name of the Emergency Services Disaster Agency (ESDA) to the Emergency Management?Agency (EMA) to stay consistant with the State of Illinois.

• Approved a revision of the Henry County Code of Ordinances Liquor Control?Section. Liquor can be served Sunday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to midnight. The change was made to simplify the county’s ordnance, said public safety committee chairman Kippy Nelson.

• Voted to purchase case management software for $30,000. Funds for the software will be provided by the state’s attorney’s drug fund, which is comprised of cash and property seized and forfeited from drug dealers. No taxpayer dollars are used in the fund, said state’s attorney Terry Patton.

• Reappointed Ned Richardson to the Henry County Ethics Commission and Jan May to the Housing Authority of Henry?County.