Mercer County Board tables county-wide cat registration

Carla Smoldt Correspondent

ALEDO — Mercer County Board tabled a proposed animal control ordinance that would require registration and vaccination of cats in the county following public comment from concerned citizens during the July 5 meeting.

Finance Committee Chairman Ted Pappas, Sherrard, said for him, it was a matter of procedure.

“The issue was that the ordinance that was presented to the County Board last Tuesday night had not been approved by the state’s attorney,” Pappas said. “I don’t think anyone was comfortable to approve something that had not been scrubbed and finalized by the SA.”

He said an ordinance that affects all of the county’s citizens needs to be meticulously combed over to avoid possible future litigation.

Pappas said the ordinance will then have to be approved by the Animal Control Committee before bringing it back for County Board approval.

Following public comment from terminated animal control employee Shaila Tegtmeier, Pappas said the board would review the county’s nepotism policy.

“Her statement indicated she was let go, the highway department director (Matt Lower) then hired his daughter,” Pappas said. “She didn’t think it was fair and she didn’t understand why she was let go. Both Brian Anseeuw (New Windsor) and Gary Gregg (Viola), because Shaila was from their district, apologized to her and said they were sorry.”

“I don’t know all the facts of why Shaila was let go, but it sure didn’t sound right, when indeed Matt Lower’s daughter is working for animal control ... we may have been totally justified in letting Shaila go.

Certainly elected officials shouldn’t have family members working in their department, it’s just a recipe for disaster,” Pappas said.

He suggested the issue be reviewed by the county’s Human Resources Committee with a possible update to the policy.

Sheriff Dave Staley spoke to the board about his concerns over the courthouse security budget shortage.

“Way back when we were doing last year’s budget, we did the research on what we could statutorily charge for a court security fee,” Staley said, adding they determined that the fee should be $84 per case after considering front door security personnel wages as well as the machine costs. Currently the cost added to each eligible case to cover courthouse security is $25.

“We put in the request to increase that charge, and basically hit a brick wall with the judges,” Staley said. “They didn’t feel like that was necessary. They wouldn’t authorize the increase.”

Board Chairman Joe Vann stepped in to negotiate.

“The chief judge refused to raise the fee from $25, without an armed bailiff and would only raise it to $70. It would have had to have been raised to $92 at the beginning of our fiscal year (Dec. 1 2015) just to break even on our costs for courthouse security now, without the armed bailiff,” Vann said.

Staley added, “So we increased it (the fee), but we added a full-time employee. So the amount they agreed to increase it to wasn’t enough to cover costs we were currently spending at the front door, plus another full time employee.”

He said an armed bailiff in the courtroom is a good thing, however, “bottom line is, I’m still going to be short on my budget when it comes to the court security figure, through no fault of my own. Nothing to be done about it, other than figure where to come up with some more money and I don’t know how I’m going to do that. It’s not a good spot to be.”

The County Board set salaries effective with the next election for the coroner, circuit clerk and county board chairman. Coroner and circuit clerk salaries were approved for four years.

Coroner: 2017, $17,061; 2018, $17,233; 2019, $17,407; and 2020, $17,583.

Circuit clerk: 2017, $49,209; 2018, $49,706; 2019, $50,208; and 2020, $50,715

The board chairman salary is fixed for two years at $8,930, beginning Dec. 1 through Nov. 30, 2018.

The board also approved use of the Courthouse lawn Aug. 27 for Aledo’s Antique Days.