By RICK HAYES
MT. VERNON — —
MT. VERNON — Jefferson County Board Chairman Robert White said he and Mt. Vernon city officials are hoping legislative action will result in equal representation from Jefferson County on the Rend Lake Conservancy District Board of Directors.
During his chairman's report at Monday's regular board meeting, White said he and Mt. Vernon Mayor Mary Jane Chesley met with members of the Board earlier in the day to make their feelings known. Franklin County has four members on the RLCD Board while Jefferson County is represented by three members — Jere Shaw and David Stewart of the county and Jim Rippy as the city's representative.
"When you look at the property taxes, we pay more, we pay more for water so the frustration has been that our representatives are very conservative. They do not want to take any more than what they need to run the operations of the Rend Lake Conservancy District, and I'm on board with that. Government or taxing bodies should never take more than what they need or spend more than what they have," White said.
"It's very obvious that Franklin County is in control and they're very comfortable with that control. We reached out to Rep. Mike Bost to introduce legislation to change the River Conservancy District Act that governs the RLCD and its operations," he continued. "We come back to this thought of equal representation or taxation with representation …. they don't really need to collect that property tax. You're talking roughly $230,000 that comes from the citizens of Jefferson County. That coupled with our water rate … our concern is that maybe we're not being quite as frugal as we should and we do not have an equal voice down there."
White said the bottom line is that either two things need to happen: "We either need to have a better working relationship with Franklin County appointees or we need to have equal representation on that board."
White said the two counties are tied together in many ways — being border counties, sharing the Juvenile Justice system, Rend Lake College, and the special education district.
"Absent any legislative action, we need to work harder with these people to come to a better conclusion instead of having consternation and/or fighting at the meetings and do what's right for all the people," White said.
Steve Lueker was officially appointed the new Emergency Management Agency director at Monday's meeting, replacing Benton Fitzjerrells, who now become the assistant. As a result of the appointment, Lueker automatically becomes a member of the 911 Board. Waltonville Fire Chief Ed Dulaney was re-appointed to that board also.
Other appointments made by the Board include: Steve Damron, re-appointed to the Greater Egypt Regional Planning Commission; Karl Price and Linda McNeil re-appointed to the 708 Mental Health Board and new appointments of V. Jane Brown and Sarah Draper were approved; Tracy Thomas, Earl Spohr and Norma Colwell were re-appointed to the Crosswalk Community Action Agency; former chief Mike Poninski to the Woodlawn Fire Protection District; and Jim Laird was re-appointed and Jeremy Hall and Jeff Williams were appointed to the University of Illinois Extension Board.
In other words, the board: