The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
Joy Swearingen, Quill correspondent
Steps were taken by the Hancock County Board to re-establish an Emergency Medical System (EMS) operated within the county.
At their meeting on December 20, the board approved wording for a referendum on the April 2023 ballot that would raise the county ambulance tax rate from 10 cents to 25 cent per $100 of assessed value. The 10 cent rate was established 32 years ago in 1990.
If the measure passes, the county could seek anywhere from the current 10 cents up to 25 cents for ambulance needs. Money based on this new tax rate would be paid from the 2024 tax bills.
The ambulance service is currently operating at a loss, according to County Treasurer Kris Pilkington. She has repaid the tax anticipation warrants, issued earlier this year, to keep the ambulance service operating. She has a bid for a line of credit of $200,000 for six months at 4.73 percent from Marine Bank.
In another measure to infuse capital into the ambulance service, the county board is working with State’s Attorney Bobi James to draft documents for the sale of the EMS buildings on the east edge of Carthage.
Included in the sale document would be terms of a lease agreement allowing Hancock County EMS use of the buildings for a stated period of time, and details on the sale process and how utilities and maintenance would be paid.
With questions and details remaining, the sale document draft was referred to the finance committee.
It was noted that the buildings can be sold to the Hancock Building Commission, which owns other county buildings including the courthouse and the jail.
“We want to do what we can to help the county deal with its ambulance problems,” said Mike Heisler, president of the building commission.
Following a closed session, the board approved an applicant for ambulance coordinator. Aaron Feagains of Nauvoo was recommended for the position by the Health and Miscellaneous Committee, following a series of interviews with eight candidates.
The board approved a contract for new position of County Public Defender, and they approved a contract with Kurt Dittmer of LaHarpe as Conflict Public Defender. The State’s Attorney Appellate Prosecutor annual fee of $7,000 was approved.
Payment for the part time IT person was approved to run through payroll at a rate of $35 per hour for consulting work, and $50 per hour for IT work done with an office holder’s approval.
The contract with Bellwether to provide budgeting advice and oversight was approved for the FY23 at $12,000 with half paid at the time of the contract agreement and half when the budget is completed next fall.
The board approved paying $3,510.84 for a FOIA settlement, that was reduced from $5,000.
In other business, the board: