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Douglas County Budget and Finance subcommittee special meeting held

By Jim Allen
A special Budget and Finance Sub-Committee of the Whole was called to order by Chair Don Munson on March 30, 2022. Items on the agenda were the salaries of elected officials and replacing the flooring in the Circuit Clerk’s office.

Nathan Burton, Circuit Clerk was in attendance to present bids to the board. The current flooring in the Circuit Clerk’s office was installed about 25 year ago and that flooring had been in use in the Judge’s office prior to installation in the Clerk’s office.

Besides being well worn, the carpet has loose threads and ripples that present a trip hazard.

Burton advertised for bids in the Tuscola and Arcola papers and presented the two bids he received to the board. One bid was from Old School Construction for labor to install flooring that would be purchased by the county. In the bid was a stipulation that if Old School Construction had to pick up the material, a 10 percent handling charge would be added to the labor bid of $12,910.00. The bid would cover all labor to remove office furnishings and replace the furnishings after the flooring was installed. It also covered staining and installation of new trim.

The second bid was from Gilles True Value of Villa Grove. The bid by Gilles includes all labor and material in the amount of $16,300.00. The labor portion of the bid was $8,650.00. The material portion of the bid was $9,025.00 Gilles confirmed that the material pricing would be good through March 31, and that any increase in the price of material would only be what the supplier charged him. 

After discussion, the board noted that when material was added to the bid presented by Old School Construction, the total cost would be $22,710.00. A motion was made by Hein and seconded by Morris to award the bid for floor replacement in the County Clerk’s office to Gilles True Value.

Burton then presented information regarding wifi in the Courthouse. The Illinois Supreme Court has been encouraging local courts to upgrade equipment to provide better service to those who have hearing or sight impairment, as well as providing access to laptops used by counsel in the courtroom proper. The improvement in technology could also make remote court sessions possible. 

Burton worked with Judge Broch and Judge Rosenbaum to secure a grant for $97,253.57 for the improvements suggested by the Supreme Court. There will be many improvements, among them drop down microphones for the jury and a drop down screen for video evidence. The grant was awarded and the money is now available to Douglas County. When the work is completed, Douglas County will be one of a few counties that will be in compliance with the Supreme Court standards.

The amount of the contract will require an advertisement for bids and the approval of a contract will occur at a later meeting.

Board Chair Don Munson then presented his suggestion for salary increases for elected officials. State statute requires that increases, if any, in the salaries of elected officials be determined before 180 days prior to their taking office. The increases will be determined for all four years of the term and cannot be changed during that term.

After reviewing prior increases and allowing for unknown inflation for the next four years, Munson proposed a 5 percent increase for each year of the four year terms beginning in December. A 5% increase per year would make the salaries of elected officials approximately $85,000.00 for the last year of this term. It should be noted that the increases for the preceding eight years were 1 percent, 1 percent, 0 percent, 0 percent, 2 percent, 2 percent, 1 percent, 1 percent.

Under the proposal, salaries of hired personnel will increase 5 percent in the first year. However, they are not tied to a four year increase as are the elected personnel.

The motion to apply the salary schedule was made by Appleby, seconded by Morris, and approved 6-0.

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