The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • County votes electric aggregation onto March ballot

  • Long-time electric electric suppliers will answer to the people of Saline County on March 18, 2014.
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  • Long-time electric electric suppliers will answer to the people of Saline County on March 18, 2014.
    The Saline County Board voted unanimously Thursday to approve placing on the March 2014 ballot the following question:
    “Shall Saline County have the authority to arrange the supply of electricity for its residential and small commercial retail customers who have not opted out of such a program? Yes or No.”
    Ordinance No. 121, placing the question on the ballot, was approved unanimously.
    Those citizens of Saline County who are not part of municipalities that have already included the question on their ballots will for the first time be allowed to choose a free market approach to electric rates.
    Competition in electric prices will become the norm for Saline County if the referendum vote passes.
    Nick Hill, DuQuoin, speaking for his Chicago employer, Select Energy, said, “If your referendum passes you will have the bargaining power of larger numbers. The best deals go to the largest buyers and you will be acting as large group in your purchase negotiations with new suppliers. Harrisburg and Eldorado have passed it. The unincorporated areas can do the same and join the larger group. The more buying power you have, the better. DuQuoin and Pinkneyville passed it in 2012 and we have never had a complaint.”
    In other matters before the board:
    The board approved the 2012 audit after David Schnakee, KFB LLP, noted some problems: Not enough supporting documents on some disbursements; the county sold some land that is not on the record; mileage rates were not consistent under travel expenses; need better plan to replace people on vacation with substitutes; many late filings of 2012 property taxes will appear in fiscal year 2013 thus shortchanging revenues for 2012; $1.5 million was overspent in 2012 due to late payment of property taxes.
    Board member Danny Gibbs spoke about a problem with the county’s landfill contracts. In summary of a lengthy explanation to the board, Gibbs said after the meeting, “We have received a $50,000 payment from Allied Waste. That was a landfill settlement agreement and not a payment from West End Landfill. The treasurer (Danny Ragan) returned $10,000 to West End Landfill without board approval. Bottom line? We are paying fees to Egyptian Health Department under contracts that don’t exist.”
    Noting that the matter was hard to understand, budget and finance committee chair Bruce Tolley said, “I would like to take a course titled ‘Landfill 101.’ I have a lot of questions that need to be answered.”
    Gibbs added, “We have got to get our paperwork straight.”
    Part of Gibbs’ explanation of the problem noted that some contracts are missing, lost over time.
    Tolley said, “We should pass a resolution to record all county contracts, assign them a number and identification code and then record them on microfiche.”
    Page 2 of 2 - “I agree,” said Gibbs.
    The matter was tabled for further discussion.

    Treasurer Danny Ragan introduced a representative of Devnet Inc., Sycamore. Steve Connell said that the new tax software the company is installing under a five year contract with the county would save money and update the county’s tax system.
    “We have to replace everything in your network, it’s pretty old stuff. We do all the training of your staff onsite. We will be here quite often. You will get to know us well,” Connell said.
    Devnet has two contracts with Saline County. One is for the software, the other is for printing.
    Marvin Teckenbroch was approved for a five year re-appointment to the Public Building Commission.
    Board member David Phelps read a request he made to the board that stated, "In the interest of responding to concerned citizens who desire a more stable and competitive economic future for Saline County, I respectfully request Chairman Carey Harbison consider assembling a Property Tax-Economic Task Force. Chairman Harbison would determine the number of member representatives of our county's work force: coal, agriculture, small business, education and major employers, with a bi-partisan balance and with the input, advice and consent of the Saline County Board."
    Molly Wilson Dearing’s resignation letter was accepted by the board. Dearing, an attorney and board member, had been appointed by Gov. Quinn to be an arbitrator of the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission. Anyone holding that office is prohibited from serving on their county board by the Illinois Code of Judicial Conduct. Dearing also serves on the Harrisburg School Board. She is awaiting the recommendation of the board of the Illinois Code of Judicial Conduct as to whether or not she can continue in that position. She said she would live in Harrisburg while serving in her new position.
    Board Chairman Carey Harbison asked for prayers for absent board member Gary Siebert. Siebert had been injured in a farming accident and missed recent board meetings due to his recovery from spinal surgery.
    Follow Kane at twitter.com/tkane_DR
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