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County Board Approves Elected Official Raises; Anticipated Assessor Drama Doesn’t Materialize

The White County Board met for more than an hour and a half Wednesday night, but the face off some were expecting never materialized.  White County Supervisor of Assessments Gary Baxley and County Assessor Amy Edwards were both in attendance but never addressed each other.  Baxley only gave a report that his office was in it’s Board of Review session and that everything seemed to be “moving along pretty good”.

County Clerk Kayci Heil says residents of the county should have received voter registration cards in the mail.  Several she says have come back to her office and she’s in the process of taking steps to make those voters inactive.

White County Sheriff Jordan Weiss detailed several building issues he’s been working through including water under the metal roof at the community service department building which he says has rotted away most of the wood.  Flush valves are being replaced at the jail.  The exposed sewer line behind the States Attorney’s office is repaired.  The States Attorney’s air conditioner froze up last week which led to a flooded hallway.  Weiss believes a toilet upstairs at the courthouse has a cracked tank and the list continues.

Mike Nelson from Frontier gave the board a nearly 30 minute presentation on the company’s improvements to the region and requesting support.

We are transforming Carmi into a fiber community and we wanna do this throughout the county, through a grant program.  So, it’s a great time when you’re talking about grants and the federal government has a lot of money that’s flowing through the state, 1.04B is allocated to Illinois and you’re my 40th county I’ve talked to regarding the BEAD program.

Nelson is looking to the board to provide letters of support and $25,000 or more to kickstart the countywide effort in bringing fiber optic to residents and businesses.

The county is also considering and looking into it’s own history with regards to liquor ordinances.  Bellwether’s Dustin Harmon says it dates back to 1971 and they’re still looking for records that established a precedent before moving forward.

So there’s a lot of moving parts with the liquor ordinance.  Discussions started with the Illinois Board of Elections on what is required of a referendum to go from a dry county to a wet county.  The process is laid out for a county that has been voted dry to be overturned wet.  We don’t have anything that shows as of yet that the county was voted dry.  So we’ve been researching ordinances to identify any referendum that was voted or went before the voters to this time, we’re back in 1971, there was a liquor ordinance in existence and there was licenses being issued as of 71, but at this time, we don’t have any evidence of a referendum making the county dry.  It just seems that original ordinance is inactive.

The White County Fair board has expressed interest in being able to establish a beer tent or beer garden during the annual gathering.

County officials also spent more than half an hour establishing new salaries for the White County Circuit Clerk and Coroner.  Salaries have to be set for elected positions at least 180 days prior to the start of their term.  Circuit Clerk Kelly Fulkerson has been in the position for more than 30 years and has done her research.

Other Circuit Clerks in the state of Illinois that have a lower population than I do, but make $22,000 more, ya know anywhere from $5k to $22-$29k more than what us as elected officials make.  And I know, as I said earlier to Dustin, it’s very obvious that our means of income are different than other counties means of income and there’s no way of knowing where their money comes from compared to where ours comes from.  So I can’t justify saying ya know how come I don’t make or how come we don’t make what they make…we all know why.  We’re not all the same county making the same amount of money in that county.  I just feel like when you see a county with a population of 6,000 people and they’re making $64,000 a year, that’s just frustrating to somebody that’s been here 32 years.

Board member David South would eventually make a motion increasing the Coroner and Circuit Clerk’s salary by 15% with 3% raises the following 3 years yearly which was passed unanimously.  South said he would love to give everyone raises, but also said it was important to work within the budget and be fiscally responsible.  Chairwoman Cassie Pigg said she believed officials should be paid fairly.

South:  I think we’ve set a standard for what’s coming up.  I think in the future our elected officials will be expecting the same thing and I think that’s probably a good thing.

Pigg:  I think it’s fair.  I think fair compensation, we don’t need…I think we need to be somewhere in the middle.  We’re in a good financial position.  I don’t think we need to be at the very bottom and we don’t need to be at the very top either.

The county board also got an update from a Greater Wabash Planning Commission representative about grants available to help with law enforcement grants including body camera reimbursement and recruitment/retention bonuses.

The county board adjourned at 8:35pm and will next meet on Thursday, June 20th at 7pm.


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