Road work ready
It was a mix of good new-bad news for Edgar County Board members this week.
They met with county engineer Aaron Lawson for a road and bridge committee meeting Monday, May 7, and also again during the regular monthly board meeting, Wednesday, May 9.
Lawson delivered good new about a long-anticipated improvement to 1350th Street, also known as Prairie’s Edge, connecting county highway 13 (Cherry Point Street) and county highway 14 (Springfield Road). Bids for the federally funded $1.9 million project came in $200,000 less than anticipated.
“The Prairie’s Edge match on our side is nothing now,” said Lawson, adding the county will also pay less toward the state’s side of the match.
Howell Paving of Mattoon submitted the winning bid and work is scheduled to start July 5.
Lawson said the county took jurisdiction of the connecting road in 2011 seeing a need for improvements. Selection of the project for federal funding came shortly after that.
“I want to thank the board for persevering on a long project,” said Lawson. “It will be a nice improvement for the county.”
Another matter is causing both the Edgar County and Clark County highway departments to realign work.
“A bridge we share is giving us fits,” said Lawson.
He said the bridge is on the county line road in southeastern Edgar County. Technically, it is on an Elbridge Township road, but Lawson said state law places responsibility on the counties in a situation where a structure serves two counties. The law additionally splits the responsibility according
the each county’s Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV).
Lawson said as a result Edgar County has about 60 percent of the cost for shoring up the structure to keep it in service.
He explained both highway departments agree the best approach is to use county employees on a day labor basis for working on the bridge.
“Neither of us have room in our programs to replace it,” said Lawson, although he noted drawings for a new bridge at the location have existed at the Edgar County Highway Department for several decades.
“We may come back to the county later to replace it, but for now we think we can get by with repairs,” Lawson said.
During the reports section of the Wednesday meeting, country treasurer Don Wiseman warned department heads his office is updating journal entries in compliance with a state law requiring all local governments to use accrual accounting, rather than cash basis record keeping. As a result, he expects people will see different balances than what was anticipated.
The treasurer added a bill is making its way through the legislature requiring the state treasurer to accept either accrual or cash basis accounting reports.
“I prefer cash accounting to accrual,” said Wiseman.
In his opinion, a cash basis report creates a much more realistic picture of the actual cash on hand.
Nicole Shaughnessy of the Edgar County Special Service Area Ambulance told county board members Illinois’ decision to place Medicaid recipients on managed care plans is creating extra paper work and a new learning curve for the business. She said the ambulance service is now working with five different plans for billing when a Medicaid recipient uses the ambulance.
Shaughnessy said the managed care plans pay more promptly than the state but the payments are still low.
Reviewing the claims against the county, board member Karl Farnham Jr. noted the county has paid $7,000 to an attorney hired to help negotiate a contract with sheriff’s department deputies, corrections officers and dispatchers.
Board member Dan Bruner questioned a $3,000 expense for trapping and removing beavers from drainage ditches in Shiloh and Young America townships. It was explained while the expense is reported to the county, the payment was made from drainage district tax funds and does not involve county money.