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By DAVID CAMPHOUSE
At the Monday, Aug. 23, board meeting, Pike County Board Chairman Jim Sheppard scheduled the first budget hearing for the next fiscal hearing for Sep. 16.
Sheppard reports that he has a positive outlook about the county’s financial future over the next year.
“I’m optimistic about tax rates,” Sheppard said. “We won’t be raising them, and I’ll know in about another month if we can lower them.”
The board will hold a series of budget hearings this fall, before ultimately passing the final budget at the November board meeting. The county’s fiscal year runs from Dec. 1 to Nov. 30.
Also discussed at the meeting was the county’s population decline over the last census period. The county’s population fell below 15,000 residents.
The population decline could potentially trigger an increase in the tax levy from .0027 to .0037, which would generate an additional $270,000 in tax revenue for the county.
Sheppard indicated he has no interest in raising taxes, even though state statute would allow it.
“The reason people are leaving the Illinois is our tax structure,” Sheppard said. “Raising taxes would just encourage more people to leave.”
In other business, the board approved Brady Borrowman to the Sny Island Board of Commissioners for a term expiring September 2024.
The board also approved the resignations of Don Peebles and Dianna Castleberry of their positions with the Pike County Housing Authority Association.
Board members went on to appoint Noelle Flesner, Leslie Henry and Mark Pulliam to the Pike County Housing Authority Association board.
In addition, Shawn Rennecker was appointed to the Western Illinois Economic Development Authority board.
A request from the descendants of Frank McWorter to the county to cede the property of the McWorter Cemetery was tabled by the board, pending further fact finding.
Finally, damages to the county’s phone system and other office technology was reported to total approximately $78,000.
The county has subsequently decided to install lightning rods and back-up data connections to protect against future weather-related damages.