WATSEKA — Three Iroquois County Board committees met recently.
The information technology committee discussed Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible websites and the county’s need for ADA compliance with Area Wide project manager Michael Tabor.
Tabor said he knows the need to be compliant is coming, but Area Wide has not been given any guidelines to follow. Tabor said a good time to figure out what needs to be done is when the county upgrades its website and its content.
Accessibility for those who have vision or hearing loss can be integrated into the website. He said private companies have been sued for not being ADA-compliant.
Tabor said the website redesign project is one that was set for fiscal year 2021, but Area Wide has already been seeking bids for the work.
The No. 1 reason for the redesign has been for additional security. Tabor said department heads are also looking to add content to the page, as well. The redesign alone will cost more than $20,000.
Tabor also talked with committee members about internet contracts. At one time, the county was looking into updating its telephone lines, Tabor said, and if this is done, then renewing a contract with AT&T would be limiting.
Finance manager Jill Johnson said the existing phones, through provider Goodwin Communications, are becoming obsolete. Currently, there is nothing wrong with the phone system, though.
AT&T offers a two-year contract for telephone use, not including long distance, and 50-MB internet service for $1,350 a month. Increased speed would cost an extra $100 a month.
Currently, without a contract, the county is paying $1,525 a month for just internet and $403 for phone, plus an average of $1,000 for long distance service. Tabor said locking in a two-year contract would save about $400 a month. But, Tabor said, if the county is serious about upgrading the phones next year, it does not want to be locked into a two-year contract.
No decision was made on the matter.
Also recently, the finance committee learned from Myron Munyon that the total insurance premiums went down $4,500. Munyon said one reason was that a worker’s comp claim from 2015 went off the books.
Also, 911 Director Eric Raymond told the finance committee that negotiations on the telecommunicators’ contract were in the works.
“The first discussions went well, from what I’m told,” Raymond said.
The hope is the contract can be finalized soon to get a firm number in the books.
Also at the finance committee meeting, the county’s fiscal year 2019 budget was amended to include the addition of $92,498 to the sheriff’s maintenance and repair line item, as it needed to reflect the insurance payment received after the courthouse’s roof was damaged.
Johnson said the IMRF line item needed to have the county’s share of the payment, which totals $600,000, put in.
Finally, the highway department’s purchase of equipment line item needed to have $248,211 added. The highway department purchased two tandem trucks in fiscal year 2018, but the vehicle did not get done until fiscal year 2019, which is when the payment needed to be made.
Also, County Highway Engineer Joel Moore said he had gotten official confirmation from the Illinois Department of Transportation stating his salary will see a 2 percent increase, taking it to $110,886. The county gets reimbursement from IDOT to cover salaries in the highway department.
Also, Moore told highway and transportation committee members that the annual maintenance letting will be Jan. 29. Moore said there about $400,000 worth of road repairs, including pipes and chipping. Moore said there will probably be just about 25 miles of oil and chipping work done this year.
The board’s health committee had a short meeting recently, as well. The committee approved a reclassification of the animal control warden’s employment.
Board Chairman John Shure brought up the matter to the committee. Shure said that, according to the state’s attorney and insurance attorneys, the county’s animal control wardens need to be hired as part-time, on-call employees. Currently, the job is classified as an independent contractor.
Shure said it is mostly just a bookkeeping issue and a tax standard. It does not change any of the duties, and because it is still a part-time position, the county is not responsible for retirement or health insurance, Shure said.
It will be at a small cost to the county, Shure said, as now the county will be responsible for paying the payroll taxes, which independent contractors are responsible to pay themselves.
The change also benefits the employees as they will be covered under worker’s compensation.
“If our state’s attorney recommends it, it’s probably the way it should go,” said committeeman Jed Whitlow.
The committee voted to recommend the full board approve the change at this week’s meeting. The change would take effect Jan. 1.
Management services committee
The board’s Smartwatt energy updating project is complete, members of the board’s management services committee learned recently.
Smartwatt helped the county in retrofitting LED lights in all three buildings — the jail, courthouse and administrative center. It also involved placing a new chiller at the jail and courthouse, and replacing the pneumatics at the courthouse and jail with electronic controls for heating and cooling.
In maintenance supervisor Chris Drake’s monthly report, he said the dumbwaiter in the jail broke, and Otis was called to put in a new cable.
Drake also said the back door on the east side of the jail has been replaced. Drake said what was in previously was a door that had an 8-foot laminate glass plate that was easily seen through. The new door is a steel door with a small window.
As for the winter weather, Drake said he had to order another salt spreader, as the previous one broke over Veterans Day, during the first big snow of the season. Drake said a repair kit cost $500, but a new one was just $300 more.
Plus, Drake said he ordered 2 1/2 pallets of salt, taking his total to four pallets.
Also at the meeting, the committee put fertilizer for the county’s farm ground out for bid.