PAXTON — A member of the Ford County Board wants to know why some bills are being paid before the board approves them.
The question arose after the board made plans during its Jan. 13 meeting to withhold payment of a $4,833 bill for repairs to the garage door at the sheriff’s office and jail. The witholding of payment was suggested so that the board could first determine whether the bill had been submitted to the county’s insurance company.
It turned out, however, that the bill had already been paid.
“How come it’s paid if we haven’t voted on it?” asked board member Tom McQuinn of rural Paxton. “We should have a deadline (for department heads to submit their bills to the board), and if bills aren’t submitted before that (date), then they need to wait till the next month.”
There was speculation that the board had at some point in the past approved a policy allowing bills to be paid prior to approval in order to avoid late fees. Circuit Clerk Kim Evans pointed out that the county recently had to pay the postal service for a post office box rental without the board’s approval so that she could continue to access her department’s mail.
Wind-farm talks to continue
Also at the Jan. 13 board meeting, Zoning Committee Chairman Randy Ferguson of Gibson City scheduled the next meeting of his committee for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 28, in the board’s meeting room in the basement of the jail.
The committee plans to continue to review proposed revisions to the county’s ordinance regulating wind farms — a process that has yet to be completed despite more than two years of talks.
Board member Bernadette Ray of Gibson City said she is concerned that, after all this work, there will not be enough board members without a conflict of interest to approve the proposed new ordinance when it comes to a vote. The 12-member board needs at least nine members to vote “yes” for the ordinance to be approved.
McQuinn said he, for one, will not be filling out a questionnaire from State’s Attorney Andrew Killian asking board members if they would have a conflict of interest in voting on the changes. Whether a board member has a conflict is up to that individual, McQuinn said.
Meanwhile, two residents spoke about the wind-farm ordinance at the meeting.
Resident Kaylyn Davis said the two most contentious issues are setbacks and noise levels. Davis said most rural homes are on 80-acre plots, which automatically build-in very ample setbacks already.
Davis also said she checked out decimal levels where she lives in the country, and “with nothing going on” the ambient noise level was at 70. Davis said she recently read an article stating that ocean waves are at about the same decibel levels as a wind turbine’s blades, and that no one minds that noise.
On the other hand, resident Kendall Hornstein, who farms around turbines near Saybrook, said “they’re a nuisance, and I’m totally against them.”
Hornstein said he recently moved back to Ford County.
Also at the Jan. 13 board meeting:
➜ The board learned that employees in Evans’ office are taking turns participating in two-hour webinar trainings on the new cannabis law and the expungements of possession-related convictions that are part of the new law.
➜ The board scheduled a finance committee meeting for 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 3, in the small courtroom on the first floor of the courthouse to amend the budget for the current fiscal year. An environmental committee meeting is to follow immediately afterwards for a discussion about a proposed electronics recycling event.
➜ The board approved all recommendations from the finance committee.
➜ The board briefly discussed Bloomington-based Bellwether LLC’s proposal to help develop the county’s budget for next fiscal year for a fee of $12,000. Board member Debbie Smith of Paxton indicated she was against the idea of paying someone else to do the budget work. “It’s our job,” Smith said.
➜ The board learned that a meeting had been set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21, at the Roberts Village Hall for local veterans groups to discuss implementing a Ford County Veterans Assistance Commission.