County board meets

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What is generally a routine matter generated some discussion during the April 10 Edgar County Board meeting.

The agenda item was appointing Susan Saxton, Roger Stanley and Ray Young to terms on the Edgar County Board of Review, which hears and resolves tax protests from citizens.

County board member Phil Ludington said he did not have a problem with the individuals being appointed but he does not like that all of them have farm connections.

“The urban population needs represented, too,” said Ludington.

Supervisor of Assessments Deena Hasler told the county board she also would like a more diverse board but it is hard to find people willing to serve. She noted it is not just a matter of volunteering because those serving on the board of review must attend a two-day training session in Springfield followed by a third day for taking a test.

Ludington acknowledged the problem Hasler faces in finding volunteers.

“It’s a personal issue for me,” he said.

The county board approved the appointments.

Board members sought clarification on the efforts to bring high-speed fiber optic Internet service to the Edgar County Health Department, the Edgar County Highway Department and possibly other county offices. The confusion is if the vendor is charging a connection fee for each site or if the connection fee covers each location.

Janet Mason, director at the health department, and Josh Knight at the highway department are talking with different sales representatives from the same vendor but getting mixed information about the costs for making the switch to fiber optic service.

Mason said it is critical the health department have better Internet because the current service does not provide enough bandwidth or the speed needed for health department staff members to work efficiently. She added figures provided to her indicate the health department’s monthly Internet bill will decline by approximately $50 per month.

County highway engineer Aaron Lawson said his department’s monthly bill will go up by the same amount the health department’s is declining, but the highway department needs the expanded capability offered by fiber optic service. He noted the department is still using software that is no longer serviced by the vendor because newer software puts too much of a demand on the current level of Internet.

“We have a tremendous need for our asset software management,” said Lawson.

County board chairman Jeff Voigt said there is no doubt both departments need better Internet, but he questioned if that is the case for all county offices. He is concerned about an additional $6,000 annual expense for Internet costs by moving all county offices to fiber optic service.

“We are facing a lot of issues with diminishing returns,” said Voigt, specifically mentioning the new minimum wage of $15 per hour starting in 2025. “I don’t mean to sound alarmed, but we need to think about the long term.”

County Clerk and Recorder August Griffin discussed the April 2 consolidated election.

“The election went smoothly, and the new equipment worked perfectly,” Griffin said.

He expressed disappointment at how few people bothered to vote in the election. Countywide the turnout was less than 15 percent of eligible voters. He promised to report back on the cost of conducting the April consolidated election after all of the bills are received.