[cifnmedia] County creates emergency management position

  • From: Sean & Kimberly Aaron <cifn@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: CIFN LIST <cifnmedia@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 18 Feb 2004 08:02:06 -0800 (PST)

Local News 

County creates emergency management position

By BILL GRIMES, Daily News
In yet another sign of these terrorism-conscious times, the Effingham County 
Board voted unanimously Monday to create a full-time emergency management 

Longtime Emergency Services and Disaster Agency Director Russ Thomas was 
appointed as the county's first full-time ESDA coordinator, effective March 1.

Thomas will be paid $25,506 through the end of the current fiscal year on Nov. 
30. His annual salary will be $34,000, half of which will be paid by the 
Illinois Emergency Management Agency.

Board Chairman Leonard Waldhoff said Thomas' full-time appointment was a result 
of an "increased emphasis" on homeland security. Effingham County is part of a 
14-county region trying to receive a state grant for homeland security.

Thomas said federal officials from the Department of Homeland Security are 
putting increased duties on emergency coordinators, meaning that it takes more 
time to be an emergency coordinator than it did even five years ago.

"It shows a really good commitment on the part of the board to create this 
position," Thomas said. "I think after the tragic events of 9/11, governments 
realize there must be a more coordinated reaction to these events."

Thomas said some of his first duties will be to develop and maintain an 
emergency operation plan for what must be done in case of a major disaster.

Thomas has operated the CB Shop in Effingham since 1975. He has been a 
"part-time" ESDA coordinator since October 1997.

Thomas said the CB Shop will either be sold or close within the next month.

In other action Monday, the board decided to table a resolution that would have 
signed off on a proposed Tax Increment Finance term extension for the city of 

The board tabled the resolution after hearing a lengthy presentation by Board 
of Review member Jack Klay, who said the TIF district under consideration did 
not meet guidelines the state has set forth for TIFs.

Klay said the area of TIF District No. 1, which includes much of Effingham's 
interstate highway frontage on the north side of the city, isn't "blighted," 
nor were many of the structures and features in the district 35 years old at 
the time the TIF district was formed in 1987. The 35-year standard is another 
TIF feature.

"The interstate didn't even exist 35 years before this district was organized," 
Klay said.

Klay said residents are, in effect, getting taxed twice because so much of the 
Equalized Assessed Valuation of the district is tied up in TIF. He said nearly 
two-thirds of the more than $32 million EAV within district boundaries bound by 

TIF districts have been credited with inducing many national chains to locate 
in Effingham and other Illinois cities. Qualifying businesses within the 
district are eligible for property tax breaks of up to 10 years

"There's nothing wrong with these projects," Klay said. "It's the way people 
are financing them."

Klay said a portion of TIF-eligible property is not thrown into the same pot as 
the rest of the taxable property in the city. That means, he said, Unit 40 
residents pay an increased tax rate to make up the difference from the loss of 
revenue in the TIF district.

The increase in property values within the TIF district is diverted to a TIF 
fund to be used to develop the area within the district or to reimburse the 
property owner for improvements.

Klay said all of his figures could be backed up by county records.

He said he is fed up with what he considers to be over-taxation.

"Enough is enough. Extending the life of this district will make the back of my 
hair rise," he said. "I don't approve of this extension, and I am going to 
oppose this with all my resources.

"You are making the people pay more money than they have to," he said. "The 
smaller the number of people contributing to the tax base, the more everyone 
else has to pay."

While the board's Legislative Committee had recommended the resolution 
supporting the city's effort to extend the life of TIF No. 1 to 2021, Klay's 
presentation apparently gave the full board reason to pause.

"I respect Mr. Klay coming up here," said board member Steve Martin. "I feel 
like I owe it to him to investigate this a little more before I make that 

Waldhoff said after the meeting that the city does not actually need county 
board approval to extend the life of the district. The city has sought letters 
of support from taxing entities impacted by the TIF for the purpose of its 
upcoming extension hearing in Springfield.

In other action Monday, the board approved a preliminary engineering agreement 
with Charleston Engineering of Olney for work on a county bridge northwest of 

The board also:

€ Approved a salary resolution for Cheryl Meyer, chief managing officer in 
the Probation Department. Meyer's salary of $46,281.31 was awarded retroactive 
through Dec. 1.

€ Approved a pair of budget resolutions that involve money from the county's 
drug forfeiture fund. One resolution for $5,000 will enable the state's 
attorney's office to hire part-time help, while the other, for $640, will pay 
overtime expenses for deputies involved in a recebt murder investigation near 
Beecher City.

€ Passed a resolution supporting boundary amendments in the Altamont 
Enterprise Zone.

€ Agreed to move the polling place for Douglas Township Precinct 7 from South 
Side School to the Effingham Park District office at 1906 S. Fourth Street.

Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151 ext. 132 or 


Sean A. Aaron (CIFN*1)
Central Illinois Fire Network

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