News Briefs: the following is a number of local news stories written by reporter Bob Balgemann
BELVIDERE – The Boone County Sheriff’s Department will be getting 12 new vehicles this year at a cost of $290,000.
Included on the list are eight 2013 Chevrolet Impalas, three 2013 Ford Explorers, all with 4-wheel drive, and one 1988 GMC air truck.
Lt. Jerry Ashens said the list may be altered, reducing the number of Impalas from eight to six, and increasing the number of Explorers from three to five.
“With that change, obviously that would be an additional cost but the sheriff’s department would cover that cost,” he wrote in a memorandum to County Administrator Ken Terrinoni.
County board members at their Jan. 16 meeting approved the expenditure. Of the total amount $229,000 was included in the 2012-13 budget, while $61,000 was not.
District 3 board member Kenny Freeman observed that Sheriff Duane Wirth wants 12 new vehicles “and then we’re going $61,000 over budget?”
“We need the air truck before any of the others,” District 3 board member Marion Thornberry said. The air truck is used to carry emergency equipment to the scene of an emergency, such as a fire.
Terrinoni said the $61,000 difference should be covered by additional revenue in the public safety sales tax fund. That extra half-penny was approved by voters in 1999, primarily for construction of a new jail.
It has been a controversial fund because in most years income exceeds the amount needed to retire the $9.3 million worth of bonds. Occasionally, it’s perceived that some of those extra dollars aren’t being spent for public safety purposes.
One such disagreement occurred in 2011 when the board voted 9-3 to use other county funds to help erase a $1.250-million deficit in the 2011-12 budget. Included in the vote was using $425,000 in excess public safety sales tax income.
District 2 board member Paul Larson, who’s also chairman of the finance committee, said revenue this year is expected to be $1.521 million, with expenses of $1.487 million, leaving a balance of $34,000.
Another District 2 board member, Ron Wait, asked if the tax still was due to sunset in 2018?
“That is for discussion by another board,” Larson replied. “We can’t say what will happen to that ordinance.”
Still, the board each year has been passing a property tax abatement ordinance, which includes a pledge to abolish the tax in 2018.
The sheriff’s office has switched from Chryslers to Chevrolets and Wirth told the county’s public safety committee in December that they were happy with the change. Maintenance costs, he said, were about $2,000 less than with the Chryslers.
Ultimately the board voted 11-1 to approve buying the new vehicles for the sheriff’s department, with Freeman dissenting.
RAMP project in townshipBELVIDERE – The Regional Access and Mobilization Project, known as RAMP, has finished one project in Belvidere Township and others are in the works.
Services Manager Becky Maggio told the township board of trustees Jan. 8 that the non-profit organization had built one access ramp since receiving the $10,000 investment from the township last year.
“Four applications are in process,” she said. “One ramp is among them and there is a chair lift.” She said $7,100 of the township allocation is left, but that it should be gone soon.
While there was no discussion among board members as to renewing that investment, township Supervisor Pat Murphy said, “Hopefully, we will replenish that (money) at some point.”
RAMP’s purpose is “to increase the ability of people with disabilities to become productive, contributing and self-directing members of society.” Improving access to a disabled person’s home is one of the areas in which the Rockford-based group provides help.
The organization has an office in Belvidere, at 530 S. State St. The contact telephone number is 815-544-8404.
RAMP determines eligibility for assistance and participants are required to contribute toward the cost of modifications.