“My intent is not to close the jail. I’m just saying we have to do better or we will have to,” stated County Board Chairman David Dosher as he brought his concerns to the board Tuesday night about the state of the County’s finances. After stating he had been over the records several times, former accountant Ron McAnulty of Norris City continued the conversation, finding the County Jail to be suffering the biggest discrepancy between expenses and revenues of all sectors of the county, showing a deficit of $330,000 in 2017. The County also looks to lose revenue of some $400,000 from the Patiki mine next year, which will further aggravate the deficit spending unless the board takes action soon. “The next budget session will be brutal,” Dosher said. Puckett said people think the jail is making money, but he never knew the jail to make money.
The County jail houses an average of 23 White County prisoners at any one time. Additional revenue comes to the jail in the form of agreements to house Federal prisoners and overflow from other counties. Because of competition from other jails that also house prisoners for extra income, White County has tried to keep its daily rate competitive, but those rates may have to go up to curb the deficit spending.
Chairman Dosher called the meeting to order at 7:01 p.m. on Tuesday, May 8, with all board members in attendance. The Pledge of Allegiance was said and the minutes of the previous meeting were approved. Payment of all current bills were approved.
Brian Ray reported the the new tractor is to arrive this week.
Ambulance Director Adam Allen reported that the service had brought in $17,407.75 for the month of April, leaving a clear balance of $13,857.14 in the black. Board members were reminded that there would be a fish fry for the ambulance team on Wednesday, in celebration of EMS week. The 911 meeting has been scheduled for Monday, May 14 at 6 p.m. in the courthouse.
Coroner Chris Marsh expressed appreciation for the ambulance crew, saying they are always on the scene when he arrives. There have been two fatal accidents in the last few weeks.
The GIS mapping fee was increased from $13 to $20, effective Jan. 1, 2019, and approved by the board. A resolution setting the fees for the White County Clerk and Recorder’s office effective Jan. 1, 2019 was approved.
The new County food ordinance and the County sewer ordinance, which have been updated, were both approved.
David Dosher stated that he and Denton Aud have looked at an ordinance from Perry County, Ill. regarding solar energy farms. Kosher said they have tweaked it to fit White County’s needs. Roseanne Koneval, Development Manager of Ranger Power Corporation, made two recommendations to be added to the ordinance. She offered assistance to draft language stating how long the approval process will take and how long the approval would last, recommending it be for the useful life of the project. This vote was tabled until the ordinance is finalized. Ranger Power has leased up a substantial amount of land from Enfield to Brownsville.
The board voted for the adoption of a resolution opposing increasing the age of a delinquent minor to 19. Denton Aud says increasing the age of a delinquent minor imposes a significant burden on counties.
The board considered adoption of a resolution for making White County a sanctuary county for gun owners. Denton Aud expressed concern about the final paragraph of Effingham County’s resolution, stating that county boards have no authority to order employees to not enforce current law. Kenny Usery stated he would vote against tabling the resolution. Denton Aud said he would look into re-writing the ordinance. A motion was made to table the vote, until June, with a re-write in support of the second amendment and review by the states attorney. All members approved.
Discussion resumed about asking the voters by referendum to increase the county sales tax (safety tax) an extra 1/4% to 1/2% to strictly fund the ambulance service’s needs. With no hospital in the county, the board feels the ambulance is a necessity. The ambulances currently in use have over 200,000 miles on them and replacement is a looming concern. Replacements could cost anywhere from $195,000 and up to $250,000 per ambulance. A transit ambulance cost would be around $120,000. Adam said the current ambulances are getting 8 miles a gallon. Dosher recommended a tax of 1/2% which could raise over $500,000. The other problem the ambulance service faces is keeping qualified EMTs and ParaMedics, as they are considered volunteers and not employees. White County is currently unable to compete with other services due to the low reimbursement rate and has lost volunteers to those services. Most paramedics in this area are hired in at $15-$17 per hour. The board voted in favor of putting the referendum on the November ballot, with one no vote by Wes Trout.
There were three bids on the road signs. Dosher recommended the low bid. The board voted to give the business to the low bidder which was MB Solutions at $80,099.15. Brian Ray brought up using the matching tax to defray some of the cost. The matching tax available would be $23,230. The signs will come in and need to be stored until they can be placed, sometime around mid summer.
There was no executive session.
The meeting adjourned at 8:08 p.m.
The next meeting is on June 11, at 9 a.m.
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