The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Hancock County Board Debates Over Minutes

The Hancock County Board meeting of Tuesday, March 18, 2008, started with a thirty minute delay in approval of the minutes while board members verbally sparred over the purchase of computer equipment.

The meeting opened with a vote of 6 ayes, 6 nays, 3 abstentions on approval of the minutes of the February meeting. Ken Nudd, Regan Ramsey, Cary Gray, Steve Bolton, Debbie Limkemann, and David Walker voted aye.

Bill Crabill, Delbert Kreps, Tom Scheetz, Robert Mapes, Steve Finney, and Marlin Long voted nay.

Randy White, Emmett Postle, and Joe Stevenson abstained.

A motion to suspend the rules and discuss the minutes was approved, with Cary Gray and Debbie Limkemann voting nay.

A thirty minute debate followed over the purchase of computers. Board members in February voted to authorize Assessor Dale Bolton to contract with Devnet, Inc. for real estate tax assessment, billing, and collection software and services.

Later in the same February meeting, board members approved Randy White's motion to authorize the assessor to purchase computer software and services of his choice and computer hardware from Computing Made Easy or CCS Computers.

A plurality of board members understood the motion to authorize purchase by the assessor. Some board members thought the motion authorized taking bids for computers. A few board members thought bids would be brought back to the board for approval. Four board members had been absent at the February meeting.

Three other issues were debated, too. First, some board members questioned whether the purchase violated state law concerning bids. Second, some board members questioned whether CCS Computers of La Harpe had a fair opportunity to submit a proposal. Third, board member Stephen Finney said an attorney from the Illinois Counties Risk Management Trust said absent board members should not vote on approval of the minutes. No statute, court decision, or attorney general's opinion was presented to support her opinion. County board rules require members to vote aye or nay unless he or she has a conflict of interest on an issue.

After twenty-five minutes of discussion County Clerk Kerry Asbridge pointed out the purpose of minutes are to establish an accurate record of the meeting. Asbridge added, "Those who were at the last meeting may recall I asked three questions about the motion to try to ensure the accuracy of the motion and potential action. I want the record to be correct. If there is an addition or correction, a motion to make it is in order. The substance of whether the purchase should be made is on the agenda later."

A gentlemen's agreement was made whereby absent members voted to abstain on voting on the minutes, and to discuss the substance of the computer purchase at its place on the agenda.

Mr. White moved that the wording in the next to last paragraph of the February 19, 2008 minutes be changed from "Mr. White moved to authorize the assessor to purchase computer software and hardware from Computing Made Easy or CCS Computers" to "Mr. White moved to authorize the assessor to purchase computer software and hardware after checking with the Hancock County computer businesses, Computing Made Easy and CCS Computers.

All voting board members voted "aye" on the change to the minutes and the minutes as corrected, with Emmett Postle, Steve Bolton, Debbie Limkemann, and Joe Stevenson abstaining pursuant to the gentlemen's agreement.

Later in the meeting the board approved a contract with Devnet, Inc, for computer services for real estate tax purposes. Roll was called and the contract was approved with 12 ayes and 3 nays, with Mr. Kreps, Mr. Crabill, and Mr. Stevenson voting no.

Then the board discussed a tentative lease agreement with First Bankers Trust for the computer hardware. Due to the sudden decline in interest rates the county board discussed abandoning the lease agreement and taking out a loan to make the purchase directly. Marine Bank and Trust company had quoted a rate of 3.75% earlier in the day.

Randy White moved to "check with bank financing, and after proper bidding procedure was followed by Kris Pilkington as agent for the county, and by this motion the board is authorizing her to use the 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. bid procedure, and accept the lowest bid on behalf of the county, and in case of a tie bid use the treasurers judgment."

Ms. Limkemann asked whether anyone objected due to legal problems. Mr. Postle also noted the item was not on the agenda. Roll was called and Mr. White's motion carried 13 ayes and 2 nays, with Mr. Kreps and Mr. Stevenson dissenting."

Mr. Stevenson presented a proposal from CCS Computer Services to be included with the record of the meeting.

In other business:

The county board was in executive session from 7:20 p.m. until 8:13 p.m. to discuss a county highway department personnel issue.

The county board learned the Fraternal Order of Police bargaining unit, which includes most deputies and support staff at the sheriff's office, have approved a tentative contract.

Pay increases vary from 3% to 3.5 % for each of the next three years plus a step increase for longevity pay each year. The board tabled consideration of the contract until the April meeting.

The county board confirmed the appointment of Jason Arthur as alternate delegate to the ambulance board.

The county board heard a report of the fee study conducted for the county clerk and recorder.

The county board recommended that the building and grounds committee begin a fee study for the sheriff.