Macoupin finance committee celebrates courthouse grant

Macoupin finance committee celebrates courthouse grant

Apprehensive about loss of state police fine money

By JORDAN GRUCZA

Enquirer Democrat Reporter

The first three meetings scheduled for the Macoupin County Board’s Finance Committee on Thursday June 6 had a packed agenda with the aim of putting together a balanced budget for the next fiscal year, which begins September 1. Board chairman Dave Thomas opened the meeting on the high note of the $1 million courthouse grant from the state of Illinois and with the assistance of State Senator Andy Manar.

“I know when Andy was still here we talked about funding for the courthouse,” said Thomas. “He came through and we’re certainly glad about it.”

Thomas stated that the grant could potentially arrive this fiscal year, but that the county is currently in the process of rebidding for the project, as the roof and dome alone could take a large portion of the grant money.

Macoupin County Coroner Brad Targhetta reported that his budget from last year has stayed largely the same aside from minor adjustments for office supplies.

Michelle Mueller from the Regional Office of Education, reminded the committee she represents four counties and that her budget reflects that, requesting a one percent increase across the board to cover salaries, amounting to $1,800 over the request from last year.

“We are starting a new truancy program, so we’ll have a truancy review board to help with truancy issues in the four counties, and that’s our newest program that we’re doing,” she said.

Sheriff Shawn Kahl reported that his department’s budget is up $188,645.50, or 5.5 percent from last year. This was due to the two percent increase to cover salaries but also because of transportation of federal inmates, mainly from St. Louis.

“I’ve got anywhere from 20 to 30 a day on average from last year which has brought in a significant amount of money,” Kahl said. “We transport them to and from, but I’ve got to have two guys to do it every time. We can’t move any fed prisoners without two guards on them, deputies or correction officers. They do pay us for that and we make money off the mileage, too.”

Kahl also reported the department’s food bill went up $31,000, office supplies went up $1,500, water bills $11,000, and medical $7,000.

“I also hired a correction officer in order to house these prisoners because this winter got crazy in there,” Kahl said. “We had 90 to 95 prisoners and 30 of them were federal inmates. There were a lot of hairy situations where we had some standoffs where we had to talk them down. But all in all we figure we’re going to have about $100,000 in expenses for federal inmates, including hiring the new guy and all the extras that come along with housing the prisoners.

Board member Todd Armour noted that fines and fees were dropping down and inquired whether or not the labor draw for the federal prisoners was taking away road time. Kahl stated he didn’t know the reason behind that, but speculated that people just aren’t paying their fines lately.

“We’re trying to get the same road coverage,” said Kahl. “But it is definitely more demanding on the road guys with these federal prisoners because we’ve got to use them to transport the prisoners sometimes.”

Chief Probation Officer Corinne Briscoe brought good news to the committee in that probation will be fully funded next year. To illustrate what that means for the county, Briscoe provided a pie chart indicating the total probation budget from the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts, probation service fees,  and the county fund, with the latter two taking up a little over a quarter of the chart each.

“The probation fee piece of it is actually  supposed to only cover what AOIC does not,” said Briscoe. “So really AOIC should be covering both of those pie pieces in 2018. AOIC is going to cover both of those pieces this year.”

This would be a reimbursement of $275, 128.20. Upon receiving that, the county will only be responsible for $134,819 of the  $409,947.70 budget in the General Fund. Briscoe also asked for a $15,000 increase for additional training in the Drug Court budget.

County Circuit Clerk Lee Ross and State’s Attorney Jennifer Watson addressed the committee on the ordinance regarding new court fines and fees. The biggest concern was that the $166,000 collected for state police tickets would go to the state beginning July 1 instead of the general fund.

County Clerk Pete Duncan said that for the fiscal year of 2018-19 that the county is below 75 percent in spending, although it should be taken into account that $250,000 had been budgeted for capital outlay and hasn’t been spent yet.

In other actions, Ross reported her budget is the same. Her staff, per their union contract, receives their two percent raise, which equals a $11,515.10 increase for the general fund. Watson reported her budget as having no increase from the previous fiscal year.