County board approves courthouse network upgrades

County board approves courthouse network upgrades

CARLINVILLE (Oct. 12, 2017) – Macoupin County Board voted Tuesday night to approve a bid of $53,474 from Illini Tech to upgrade the networking system in the courthouse, laying the groundwork for also switching the courthouse phone lines over to a voice-over-data system, which the sheriff’s department switched to last year. Both upgrades are expected to save the county money in the long run.

The existing wiring used for networking is 20 to 30 years old and does not function at current data speeds. The wiring that will be installed is the most up-to-date available and should last another 20 years or so, even as data speeds increase. In addition, the technology will allow Illini Tech to be able to pinpoint the exact source of a problem when there is one, instead of having to search the entire courthouse, and an outage in one office will no longer cause an outage in the entire building, as each office will be networked independently.

County Clerk Pete Duncan explained the cost of the networking upgrade will be divided among each of the departments in the courthouse, as follows: circuit clerk, $13,540; circuit court, $12,139; county clerk, $9,874; state’s attorney, $6,436; supervisor of assessments, $6,436; and treasurer, $5,049. Each department will cover the cost of its own upgrade out of special funds, provided the costs do not go above the bid amount; as a result, no money will be spent from the General Fund for the networking upgrade. He noted the bids include a flat fee for labor. “We’re rolling the dice,” he said. “If they do less hours, we’re obviously paying more than we probably could have, but – for anyone that’s ever been in our courthouse and looked at our network – if they do more hours, which is more likely, we’re locked in.”

Though the upfront cost of the upgrade is substantial, Duncan said the county spends a large amount of money with Illini Tech each year on service calls when there is a problem; last year, just under $80,000 went to the company, though some of that was for supplies such as ink and toner.

Duncan did not yet receive a bid from the company that provides the handsets for the voice-over-data phone system, so the board granted the General Administrative Committee power to act on that matter. It was noted the courthouse phone bill is currently almost $2,500 per month, and the new system would eliminate long-distance charges as well as some other charges. However, because costs for the handsets are above and beyond the networking costs, some General Fund money may need to be used.

Duncan explained the goal is to get the networking in place prior to Jan. 1, when the circuit clerk’s office has to switch to electronic filing for many kinds of cases. “Additionally, on March 20, which is Primary Day, I won’t have to reset our network five times every half hour to upload election results,” he said.

Other discussion

Because the county is not receiving sales tax revenue from the operational coal mine in the county, the board decided to send a letter to the Illinois Department of Revenue, state treasurer and state comptroller, asking why that is the case and why the county has not received a response to previous inquiries about the matter. The letter also asks that a representative of each office attend a meeting with the board to offer an explanation. “In a perfect world, what we’d like to do is get a representative from each of these offices in the same room at the same time with us so that we could ask some of these questions that we never get answers to,” said board member Todd Armour. “Even if they came down and the answers weren’t answers that we liked, at least we’d force them to do due diligence. They’d go in, they’d research it, maybe audit records, and make sure they’re collecting the taxes the way they ought to be collecting the taxes.” Copies of the letter were also sent to State Sens. Andy Manar and Sam McCann and State Reps. Avery Bourne and C.D. Davidsmeyer.

The board approved an amendment to the county’s Solid Waste Ordinance to prohibit the accumulation and storage of refuse, waste, construction or demolition debris, discarded or salvage materials (including junk autos), except in a junk yard, with exceptions made for small accumulations as a result of property improvement projects. Those accumulations must be removed within 30 days of the project’s completion. The ordinance also prohibits inflammable, explosive or hazardous materials from being placed in garbage containers and prohibits infestation of vermin or rodents on any premises. Board member Harry Starr asked about the definition of “infestation,” given that it would be difficult to eradicate all mice from farms, for example, and Board Chairman Mark Dragovich said the ordinance would likely only be used so the county has something to enforce in the event of a complaint. “I don’t think it’s something where we’re going to have a guy out patrolling 24 hours a day looking for rats,” he said. It was also noted that complaints would likely first be directed to the Health Department, then to the Sheriff’s Department.

The minutes of the following meetings were approved: county board on Sept. 12, Courts Committee on Sept. 26, Environmental and Health Committee on Oct. 2, Executive and Public Safety committees on Oct. 3, and General Administrative and Economic Development committees on Oct. 4.

The board accepted a grant of $20,000 from Dakota Pipeline. Half of the funds will be distributed evenly among the fire departments in the communities through which the pipeline passes (Scottville-Modesto, Palmyra, Carlinville, Gillespie and Mt. Olive), while the other half will go to the Sheriff’s Department ($7,500) and to Emergency Management Agency Coordinator Jim Pitchford ($2,500) for a new computer. Dakota Pipeline will present the grants at a ceremony in Litchfield at a later date.

In other action, the board reappointed Ruth Ann Donaldson to the  South Otter Drainage District for a three-year-term expiring Sept. 1, 2020; approved a resolution authorizing the execution and amendment of the Federal 5311 Grant Agreement for the county’s transportation program, as they do each year; passed an ordinance amending the Macoupin County Enterprise Zone to incorporate property on Route 4 near Carlinville, pending the successful purchase of the property by Michael Greer (see story on Page 2A for more information); approved the Thurm Estates Minor Subdivision; tabled a water line relocation agreement with Central Macoupin County Rural Water District; and placed on file the jail inspection report, Staunton Area Ambulance annual audit, claims and officers report, mileage and per diem, Revolving Loan Fund report, county clerk report, animal control report and a letter from the state comptroller regarding audit standards.