County approves $700,000 courthouse project

County approves $700,000 courthouse project

By: DANIEL WINNINGHAM

Enquirer~Democrat managing editor

A bid of $702,400 by Joiner Sheet Metal and Roofing of Highland was approved unanimously by the Macoupin County Board Tuesday, provided State’s Attorney Jennifer Watson gives the final go ahead.

“I just didn’t get all of the information from the architect in time for her to review it properly,” said Board chairman Mark Dragovich.

Dragovich explained the project is for the courthouse dome, wall and chimney as well as roof  installation. In the contract, it’s reported as approximately 12,400 square feet.

Board member Fran Wieseman questioned if a final color has been selected.

“Did we ever decide on a color for that dome?” he asked.

“I think there has been some discussion but I don’t think a final decision has been  made,” Dragovich said.

Board member Harry Starr agreed.

“We think we know which direction we’re going but no final decision has been made as of this meeting,” Starr said.

Dragovich is optimistic the work can begin Aug. 1 and be completed before winter.

The county received a $1 million grant from the state of Illinois for courthouse improvements and this project will account for a little more than 70 percent of that total.

“We’ve got some other projects we want to do,” he said. “The next one I believe is to renovate the restrooms on the first floor.”

That specific revelation drew a few laughs from those in attendance.

In addition, Dragovich mentioned HVAC improvements and well as new light fixtures, painting and caulking exterior windows.

“I don’t know if we’ll have quite enough funds to do everything,” he said.

Board reduces coroner’s annual salary

After a lengthy discussion, the board approved changing the salary of the coroner position to $40,000, starting December 2020. All elected positions are to receive an annual 3 percent increase.

Brad Targhetta is now serving as coroner but chose not to seek re-election. He is now making $48,284 per year.

Board chairman Mark Dragovich suggested the pay of the coroner should be a fraction of the sheriff’s salary, which is now at approximately $68,000 annually.

“The coroner has a lot of duties, but not as many as the sheriff,” Dragovich said.

Targhetta told the board the attorney general ruled the coroner is a full-time position.

“We only get one opportunity to vote salaries down,” board member Todd Armour said. “Everyone is adjusted down when they are new to the position.”

Targhetta said decreasing the coroner’s salary upon election would go against past precedent, in which raises were given to elected officials prior to serving office.

“I’d argue that was a mistake,” Armour said.

Armour contended the past practice was “highly inflationary.”

“I think the world works on precendents, even if they are wrong,” he said. “If they are wrong, at some point, the wrongs need to be made right.”

The roll call vote was 17-1 with Fran Wieseman casting the only “no” vote.

The reduction in salary will be $8,284 less in pay and a decrease of 17.15 percent.

Macoupin County Clerk Pete Duncan said this was the latest the board could make a decision on the salary before it would go into effect starting December 2020.

Dragovich agreed, saying the board must act by June 1 for the change to become official.

Anthony Kravanya filed for the position as a Democratic candidate and won the primary in March unopposed.

Budget review

With two-thirds of the existing fiscal year in the books, the board held an eight-month budget review. Macoupin County Clerk Pete Duncan said at this point in the yeaer, the ideal amount of expenditures would be about 66 percent.

Overall, the county is at 65 percent in general fund expenses. In terms of revenues, the county has about 58 percent anticipated revenues.

Taking the advice of its Finance Committee, the Macoupin County Board approved trimming department budgets by 5 percent of a quarter of the total budget.

Duncan explained this request as to help deal with additional costs to his office due to COVID-19, both in terms of the election that just happened as well as software needed to help provide services while keeping the public out of the courthouse.