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County Board Approves New FOIA Tracking Software

By Stephanie Malench

The Madison County Board met on April 20 and began with the Sheriff Department Deputy Chief Jeff Connor recognizing Officer Walendorf. Walendorf responded to a call for a woman who had hung herself on the bars by her T-shirt. Walendorf performed single CPR for seven minutes continuous until paramedics arrived. Hospital staff said that had Walendorf not done the CPR for the full time, the woman would not be alive. The board recognized his heroic efforts.

Several appointments were approved to area fire protection districts and light districts, as follows. Mark Ellison and Wayne “Rick” Sims were reappointed to new three-year terms on the Fosterburg Fire Protection District Board; Mike Woolsey was appointed to a three-year term replacing Alan Schaake on the Glen Carbon Fire Protection District Board; Dave Monken will replace Charles Urban for the last year of his term on the Grantfork Fire Protection District Board; Jeffrey Oetke Jr. was reappointed to a new three-year term on the South Roxana Fire Protection District Board; Peggy Jeter was reappointed to a new three-year term on the State Park Fire Protection District Board; Frederick Patterson and Steve Lynn were both appointed to three-year terms on the Troy Fire Protection District Board replacing Dan Gonzales and Phil Loethen respectively; Patricia Bridges was reappointed to a new three-year term on the Miracle Manor-Bellemore Light District Board; Michelle Goebel was reappointed to a new three-year term on the Prairietown Light District Board; and Barbara Dowdy was reappointed to a new three-year term on the State Park Light District Board.

The only agenda item garnering significant discussion was a resolution to purchase Public Request Management Software for the Madison County Board Office. The three-year contract will cost $45,000, or $15,000 each year and free up staff time to work on other business. County board member Eric Foster asked State’s Attorney Haine to explain the FOIA process and who typically sends FOIA requests for board members that are not on the executive committee and taxpayers.

The software will allow the county to be more transparent with less cost and effort. Currently, the State’s Attorney’s Office has one lawyer who focuses the majority of the work day checking the Freedom of Information Act requests to make sure that nothing is being asked for that could put the county at risk.

Once the software is in place a report will be created and given to the board stating who the top 10 requesters have been during the past 18 months that Haine has been in office and how much money was spent responding to the FOIA requests. The software will also allow residents to look on the website at FOIAs already received and the responses to the FOIAs so they do not have to ask for the same information all over again. Haine said most of the requests they receive are from individuals, occasionally the media, and rarely corporations. St. Clair County currently use the software and it is available on their website for those who want to see how it works.

The software will also track residents or businesses that submit a large number of requests and after a certain number of requests set by the State of Illinois has been reached, a label will be triggered reducing the response time. An example given was Rob Dorman, former IT Director who has made seven FOIA requests in the past week. Haine said that number was “somewhat high but not unusual” for him.

A contract was awarded to the AAIC firm for $175,510 to architecturally renovate the Courthouse Elevators. The board also approved  increasing the Capital Project Fund by $180,000 to cover the services needed to perform an assessment and design a plan for the project.

A last, best, and final offer was rejected by the Union of the Teamsters Local 525 employees of the highway department regarding wage increases for the last year of their contract which expires November 30, 2023.

The Union of the Teamsters Local 525 for the animal control department approved their new wages after a salary freeze the first year. The increase  includes two off-schedule adjustments for 2020 and 2021 and an on schedule increase of 1.7% effective December 1, 2022.

A $625,000 COVID-19 Response Grant and $427,293 COVID-19 Crisis Grant were received from the Illinois Department of Public Health. Any money not spent before the end of fiscal year 2022 may be re-appropriated for fiscal year 2023.

The county also received a grant from the Illinois Department of Public Health for $62,500 entitled the Local Health Department overdoses Surveillance Response Grant with the purpose of providing funding for the development of a local response plan for opioid overdose and associated morbidity and mortality based on real-time surveillance.

Eight water districts will be receiving Drinking Water grants that must be spent before December 31, 2024. The Meadowbrook Public Water District and Bond Madison Water Company will each receive $50,000 and the following six districts will each receive $100,000: Mitchell Public Water District, Moro Public Water District, NorthEast Central Public Water District, Pontoon Beach Public Water, Three County Public Water District, and Tri-Township Water District.

A resolution was passed authorizing the Madison County Community Development Department to apply for a $95,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Human Services  for the 2023 Emergency & Transitional Housing Grant.

The Community Development Program also received $3,529,710 in HOME Investment Partnership-American Recovery Plan funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to invest in permanent rental housing and tenant-based rental assistance and supportive services throughout the county.

The next County Board meeting will be held on May 18 at 5 p.m.

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