County Board adopts fee increases to food sanitation code

<span>CHESTER -- The Randolph County Board of Commissioners met in regular session on Dec. 1, shortly after the swearing-in ceremony of county officials elected in the Nov. 4 general election.</span>

<span>New Commissioner Ronnie White took his seat at the table, as well as newly-elected Treasurer Justin Jeffers.</span>

<span>During the meeting, Commissioner Marc Kiehna was elected as the new board chairman, while previous chairman David Holder will serve as budget director.</span>

<span>"Dave has done yeoman's work (on the budget)," Kiehna said. "If you followed our discussions throughout the year, who would have thought we would be sitting here with the possibility of a balanced budget?"</span>

<span>One of the major discussion items of the meeting was adopting new Certificates of Compliance fee increases to the food sanitation code. The fee increases were set based upon a recommendation from the State of Illinois Department of Public Health and were first introduced at the Board of Commissioners' Nov. 21 meeting.</span>

<span>Establishments deemed to be in the "high risk" category saw their fee increase by $50 to $250 per year, while those in the "medium risk" category increased $35 to $150. Establishments deemed "low risk" saw their fee increases rise $25 to $75.</span>

<span>Certificates of Compliance are required to be posted conspicuously in every food service establishment or retail food store, according to the food sanitation code.</span>

<span>"It's a recommendation from the Board of Health that the county has to pass fee increases in the food and sewage code," said Thomas Smith, Randolph County Health Department administrator. "If adopted, the county sets the fee. If they're not adopted, the state sets the fee and Randolph County would get a chunk of (the revenue)."</span>

<span>Smith said categories are determined by the risk of transmitting foodborne illnesses. High-risk establishments include those that offer food buffet-style or prepare food hours, or even days, before consumption.</span>

<span>Medium-risk establishments include most fast-food restaurants due to the generally short time between preparation and consumption, while low-risk businesses deal with commercially-prepared items.</span>

<span>The fee for temporary food stands, which includes those at festivals and carnivals, remains unchanged at $25.</span>

<span>"We spent a considerable amount of time working on these fees," said Holder. "We compared ourselves with other counties and we were pretty much in the ballpark on all of them."</span>

<span>The board also set a permit fee for geothermal wells, which have recently been added to the health code.</span>

<span>The fee is $250 for five well boreholes, or fraction thereof, and requires 48 hours advance notice to the Randolph County Health Department prior to installation.</span>

<span>It applies to vertical wells only, not horizontal, according to Smith.</span>

<span>"We have made allowances for emergency repairs and things of that nature," Smith said in regard to the 48-hour deadline.</span>

<span>General assistance claims for the period were $3,288.94. The next meeting of the Randolph County Board of Commissioners is scheduled for Dec. 19 at 9 a.m. at the Randolph County Courthouse.</span>