The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
ANNUAL BUDGET 2021 IS PRESENTED TO BOARD
by Mark Cox, Journal Pilot Editor
The finance committee presented the preliminary annual budget for 2021 to the Hancock County board during the regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 20, in the courthouse.
"We think this is a good budget," said finance committee chairman, Wayne Bollin. "The levy increase this year is 1.2 percent, which means we are leaving $230,000 on the table. But we want to reduce the burden on the tax payers as much as possible."
Bollin explained that if the board levied the full amount allowable, they could increase revenues by $230,000. However, they are confident that the budget presented is sufficient, despite not levying for the maximum amount.
The budget must be on display for 15 days for review, prior to a vote by the full board. Therefore, the board will vote on the budget during the next meeting.
Citizens interested in reviewing the proposed 2021 budget can find it on the Hancock County website, at www.hancockcounty-il.gov.
Dr. Brendan Moon, of Carthage, addressed the board related to the proposed elimination of the 457 retirement plan.
"As an employee of the county, the 457 retirement plan is a big benefit," said Moon. "The only cost is a $500 administration fee, which I would happily pay just to maintain the 457 plan."
During the discussion, the board learned that the $500 fee is for all participants, not per individual.
"The plan has not been administered very well in recent years," stated county clerk, Holly Wilde-Tillman. "If more people were aware of the plan and understood it better, there would probably be more interest."
Possible elimination of the of the plan came about as result of discussions in the finance committee. Wilde-Tillman came across the annual fee for the 457 plan, but could not find a line item for it in the budget.
"My issue is that the county already offers a retirement plan with IMRF, how many do we need to offer?" asked member Mark Menn.
Moon explained that while there are pros and cons to all plans, a 457 plan is a benefit that the county should use as a hiring perk.
The board decided not to take action while more information is being gathered.
Keith Krohe, of County Health Insurance, attended the meeting to answer questions of the board. He noted that despite seeing a potential six percent increase for Hancock County, things look good for the 10-month period.
The health committee updated the board on the status of Mike Wright, as animal control warden for Hancock County. The board had planned on voting on Wright for the position, however state's attorney, Rachel Mast, advised that a department administrator, who is a veterinarian, must appoint the warden, because Wright is not a veterinarian. Once a veterinarian is established as the administrator, the warden can be appointed.
"Sounds a little backwards," noted Mast, "but we have to do it this way to be in compliance with the statute."
In other business, the board approved the appointment of Elgin Berry to the position of Hancock County engineer. This is a six-year appointment. The board set the engineer's salary at $102,000, which is a two percent increase over last year.
Jennifer Meeks, who had been serving as part-time EMS director, was approved by the board for the full time position.
"Jennifer has done a great job for us and we are lucky to have her," added chairman Delbert Kreps.
During the meeting, member Mark Menn asked EMS director, Jennifer Meeks, if the ambulance station in Hamilton had been shut down. Meeks explained it would be down for a week or two while it is treated for bed bugs.
The meeting adjourned at 8:21 p.m.