County board committees meet
As a result of the week starting off with New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, Macoupin County Board condensed most of their typical four-day meeting schedule into just two days, with four meetings — the Executive, General Administration, Public Safety and Economic Development committees — on Wednesday.
Sheriff Shawn Kahl said the jail now holds 30 federal inmates (out of a total 85 inmates). The county started accepting federal inmates in June, with four or five at that time, and that number has increased gradually since then. The federal government pays the county a flat rate of $58 per day per inmate (up from $54 initially), as well as reimburses the county for time and mileage involved in taking inmates to the federal courthouse in St. Louis, Mo., which happens frequently. So far, the county has billed the federal government for approximately $227,000 for keeping the prisoners, and all but $56,000 of that has been paid; the amount unpaid is for December, and the bill for that just went out this week, so Kahl expects to receive that payment by the middle of the month. If the current number of federal inmates stays approximately the same next year, Kahl estimates it will bring in more than $650,000 in additional revenue for the county, and that housing the prisoners will cost the county about $90,000 more than had been budgeted for his office, excluding salary for another correctional officer that was just added due to the higher-than-typical number of inmates.
Kahl also went over some statistics for his department for last year. In 2018, his deputies handled 8,942 calls (roughly 25 calls per day), which is down slightly than the year before, but many of this year’s calls were more serious or violent, such as the murder in Chesterfield; the disappearance of Denita Hedden and the recent search for a missing 11-year-old autistic boy in Wilsonville. They also served 2,400 civil papers and handled approximately 80 car/deer crashes, 72 burglaries, 170 theft calls, 21 automobile thefts, 180 domestic situations, 400 vehicle crashes and 26 sexual assaults (the most they’ve ever handled in a year). There are 2,209 active warrants right now, though Kahl noted some are likely never to be served, such as one for a person who lives in Florida and has a Macoupin County warrant out for a DUI from 1989. A total of 14,360 9-1-1 calls were made to the dispatch center (many of which are handled by other departments in the county), and dispatchers answered more than 42,000 total calls, including minor, non-emergency ones; the county also dispatches for Girard, Mt. Olive, Palmyra, Bunker Hill and Brighton, as well as 9-1-1 and all fire and ambulance calls.
Discussion for the General Administrative Committee focused on the need to rearrange spaces in the courthouse to accommodate creating office space for the new GIS manager. His office is located in a small room on the first floor that was once a copy room; currently, it is also used for taking statements from domestic violence victims, by lawyers for e-filing documents and having conferences with their clients, and by County Clerk Pete Duncan’s office for storage of election equipment. The election equipment has temporarily been relocated but needs to be moved to a more secure location, and a computer may stay in that room for lawyers to use for e-filing purposes, but the other activities will be moved across the hall to a space formerly used by Treasurer Anne Boehm, who expressed frustration that she had not been more fully consulted about the changes previously. It was agreed that Sheriff Shawn Kahl and his crews will help rearrange the spaces as needed, and it was noted that in the near future there needs to be an in-depth discussion of storage and other space usage at the courthouse to determine, for example, what old documents can be disposed and what needs to be kept.
Carl Nail of Nail Land Surveying presented information to the Economic Development Committee regarding the creation of two proposed minor subdivisions, one on University Street just outside the Carlinville city limits and the other on Echo Lane south of Brighton. Both are for the creation of two lots, and both were sent to the full board for final approval.
The Executive Committee set the agenda for next week’s regular board meeting. That meeting will include guest Kent Tarro from the Public Health Department; board committee appointments for 2019-20; petitions for two road/bridge projects, one in Barr Township and the other in Scottville Township; a resolution regarding MFT rock letting for 2019; an ordinance authorizing an installment purchase agreement for the new health department building, providing for the issue of up to $500,000 debt certificates; and an ordinance amending the wording of the subdivision ordinance so that minor subdivisions will be approved by the Road and Bridge Committee instead of the now-defunct Planning and Subdivision Committee. New business will include approving the minor subdivisions as discussed on Wednesday; further discussion of the courthouse storage and conference room needs; background checks and physicals for potential hires; the 2019 Citizen’s Guide for Macoupin County; and approving the list of FOIA officers for 2019.