Will County Republican Caucus Committee met April 19.
Will County Republican Caucus Committee met April 19.
Here is the minutes provided by the Committee:
I. Call To Order / Roll Call
Majority Leader Charles E. Maher called the meeting to order at 8:50 am
Attendee Name; Title; Status; Arrived:
Charles E. Maher Majority Leader Present
Mike Fricilone Majority Whip Present
Jim Moustis County Board Speaker Present
Steve Balich Member Present
Darren Bennefield Member Present
Gloria Dollinger Member Present
Gretchen Fritz Member Late
Donald Gould Member Present
Suzanne Hart Member Absent
Tim Kraulidis Member Present
Debbie Militello Member Present
Judy Ogalla Member Present
Annette Parker Member Present
Cory Singer Member Late
Ray Tuminello Member Late
Tom Weigel Member Present
Present from State's Attorney's Office: M. Tatroe
II. Pledge Of Allegiance To The Flag
CMAP Executive Director Joe Szabo led the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.
III. Approval Of Minutes
1. WC Republican Caucus - Regular Meeting - Mar 15, 2018 8:45 am
Result: Approved [Unanimous]
Mover: Steve Balich, Member
Seconder: Mike Fricilone, Majority Whip
Ayes: Maher, Fricilone, Moustis, Balich, Bennefield, Dollinger, Fritz, Gould, Kraulidis, Militello, Ogalla, Parker, Singer, Tuminello, Weigel
IV. Old Business
V. New Business
1. Discussion of County Board Agenda
Mr. Weigel stated there is one special use permit for a firearms dealer.
There is a case for variance for building setbacks, they have it too close to the property line, one of the neighbors complained about it. They put up some temporary buildings/greenhouses without building permits. He would like the State’s Attorney to look at the resolution for the appeal because it says we are approving the appeal but we are not. We want to concur with the zoning board of appeals which denied the appeal for the setback.
Mr. Moustis stated this went to the Planning and Zoning Commission. We need to be prudent in our decision making to overturn the board that is responsible for variances.
Mr. Maher asked how long the building has been up.
Mr. Weigel responded several years.
Mr. Maher asked if there was a statute of limitations on this or once they have been on an easement for a certain period of time.
Mr. Moustis stated there has been rulings in the past from the State’s Attorney anything that existed before 1947 stayed. Most of these buildings can be moved, they are anchored down greenhouses, and they are not on a hard foundation. The owner contends if he moves them he could make it legal, but it would have a greater impact on the neighbors.
Mr. Weigel responded that he is saying he doesn’t really have a place to move it but he has a huge lot with several acres, he could move it somewhere away from the neighbors.
It might be closer to the front of the house instead of the back.
Mr. Moustis stated it would be ideal if they could all sit down and work this out.
Ms. Ogalla stated he said he could move them to the front of the property, but he didn’t really want to do that because it would be right next to the neighbor’s house. The person who doesn’t want this, who has issues with something else going on at the property, which is a landscaping business that he is moving to another location in Indiana. I want to ask to table this for next month so that possibly they can work things out and we know for sure if he is actually moving his landscaping business to Indiana. She did talk to Land Use and was told typically Planning and Zoning approves the variances even if it is only 2 or 3 feet off the property line.
Mr. Moustis suggested someone go back and talk to the Zoning Commission if we are working things out with the neighbor.
Ms. Ogalla stated she would talk to them.
Mr. Weigel stated there is a map amendment from A1 to R3 which we approved.
Mr. Maher asked the State’s Attorney since this building has been there for several years, is there a statute of limitations or something along that line.
Ms. Tatroe responded this is an ongoing violation, every day is a new violation. She also stated that anything before 1947 is in fact “grandfathered” in.
Mr. Fricilone stated they have reports to put on file. We’re transferring appropriations for the Clerk to start scanning operations of our vital records. Appropriating some grant funds in the Health Department and doing our third and final cleanup for the end of year budget.
Mr. Balich stated he is on the Finance Committee and with the budget coming up he submitted a FOIA requesting information on the amount of money paid to various people who work in the County. He would like to know if there was extra money paid out in the form of bonuses and such. His FOIA was denied and he was told to go to Mr. Blackburn’s website and figure it out himself. He was told Mr. Tidwell was working on getting him some information a few weeks ago. He demands to get this information so that they can make a logical vote on the budget.
Mr. Gould stated they are awarding some contracts, to do some work on Hadley Road and to lower the speed limit on River Road and do a JT with the Village of Simerton. There is a meeting coming up in Romeoville in regards to Weber Road also, if anyone would like to attend.
Public Health and Safety-
Ms. Ogalla stated they are putting some reports on file. There was a swimming pool ordinance change on re-inspection of pools and beaches. They are increasing the fees in hopes that it will encourage them to better take care of the beaches and water. We are also renewing a contract for Dietary Nursing and Housekeeping for Sunny Hill.
Mr. Moustis stated the public pools are state regulated but we do the inspections.
Mr. Tuminello arrived at this juncture
Legislative and Policy-
Mr. Maher shared that they just returned from the Legislative trip to DC. They met with a lot of elected officials out there and several of the departments. They had discussions on the Tiger Grants and the Opioid epidemic and some of the opportunities that may be there for Will County to do some joint efforts with different groups.
Mr. Moustis commented they had a productive trip. The schedule was very packed, they received a lot of direction and information from some of the agencies that will benefit us. They learned there is more money being put into the Opioid programs, they went from approximately $20 million to $120 million, the same thing with Tiger Grants which were almost tripled. We did learn regarding our application for our Tiger Grant, there over 600 submitted and only 117 that were selected to go to the Secretary of Transportation who made the final selection. There were 47 chosen, we were not one of them but we did make the final cut, almost all of these grants went to rural areas. We are going to re- submit out Tiger Grant, he thinks we will have a good chance, it has to be done by July 1st. They met with Congressman Kinzinger, Congressman Hultgren, and Congressman Lipinski and with Senator Durbin.
Mr. Maher stated we have a lot of good support in D.C. right now.
Mr. Tuminello stated there is one item authorizing the Will County Executive to amend a contract for Kluber for design on the Will County Health Department. The report they have asked to be included in the packet every month did not make the packet so he will read it from the desk.
Mr. Moustis stated you will see all of the salaries we need to set the salaries on, County Board, County Clerk, Sheriff, and County Treasurer. The Resolution is going forward with no changes to the current compensation. He will make motions to put it on the floor at the current rate, there will be an opportunity for discussion on them. As far as the utility contract, he asked if the State’s Attorney had a chance to talk to them. Ms. Tatroe responded she spoke with Ms. Bluemer, we do now have most of the gas agreement done, and the terms are in there, there are some technicalities that the State’s Attorney is working with the gas company on. You have the terms as far as price and the length of the contract, so if you approve it and there is a substantial change we can’t approve it for the Executive to sign, but if there are just minor changes then it can go forward.
Mr. Moustis stated he will move it forward unless the State’s Attorney tells him otherwise. On the electric, one area he would like to point out is we have the option to go to all renewable energy. We can either go 50% all renewable energy or 100%. There is a slight cost to that but not a huge cost. The Resolution says that 50% of the electricity we purchase will be from renewable energies.
Mr. Gould stated he feels that nuclear power is very important to Will County and that Exelon Nuclear pays the largest tax bill in this county, they employ a lot of people and they employ thousands of people when they have an outage at Unit 1 or Unit 2 in Braidwood. He thinks it’s important that the County Board be a purchaser/participant of nuclear power. This also keeps the residential part of the tax bill down because the industrial part pays so much. As he pointed out at the committee, the NRC has renewed them, Unit 1 and Unit 2, which opened in 1987 in Braidwood.
Mr. Fricilone stated buying green energy doesn’t mean we aren’t buying from the companies that are doing nuclear. They now own a lot of these different green options, so it may just be a different way of buying it. He thinks going to 100% gives us branding ability that we don’t have right now. By being 100% green it allows us to be classified as an EPA Green Partner. Companies like Apple and Google are EPA Green Partners. We want to attract tech companies here not just logistic companies. To do that we need to be a leader in these kind of things.
VI. Other New Business
Handout from Samantha Bluemer, Land Use at Committee
Ms. Bluemar reviewed handouts on Green Power, Capturing the Benefits of the Purchase and Green Power Partnership. The Green Power Partnership requires us to have at least 3% of our energy procured from a renewable source in order to be listed however whatever your percentage is, it is published on the register alongside all of these companies. There is certainly a benefit to incorporating renewable energy into what we procure.
Ms. Dollinger asked if whatever we decide today, can it be altered next year, or is it set in stone for 5 years, 10 years etc.
Mr. English from Tradition Energies responded that the recommendation is 3 years at this point to lock in. If there is an option on the table to do less than 100%, you can increase it at any point throughout the life of the agreement. There is a cost associated with that. Mr. Maher expressed concern jumping into 100% right away without actually having a good idea of what the implications are and what it really means to us from an Economic Development stand point. He personally doesn’t need to go more than 50% right off the bat if you say we can always increase, if we see a financial benefit and a return on our investment.
Mr. Tuminello stated there is a reason he will only be voting for 50%, currently we are mandated at 12%, as our county develops and we start bringing on new technologies and start bringing in renewable energy, we can support that 12% locally but we are pushing out to go up to 50%. What that means is we are going to purchase power from outside of the State of Illinois, and we are going to push that money outside and that makes him nervous. He thinks as we bring on more renewable energy and is more valable in the grid from our area locally we can then ramp it up. But to go to 100% simply means we will be purchasing it from areas far away. Correct?
Mr. English responded once you sign an agreement for renewable energy, all you are doing is obligating that supplier to go out into the market and source your energy needs from a renewable resource.
Mr. Maher asked if we even know what our percentage is that we are putting out on the grid, the County’s renewable energy.
Ms. Bluemar responded in the last 5 to 6 years it has been 235 gigawatt-hours which is a lot of energy we produce and put on the grid that is clean for the community to use.
Mr. Maher asked if there was a way to find out what percentage that would be.
Mr. English stated the only way to guarantee you’re getting it from the County from that resource is if you install onsite and you are running the meter backwards.
Mr. Balich when we talk about solar farms in Land Use and it seems renewables really are an added burden on taxpayers.
Mr. Fricilone asked if we go with 50% are they obligated to buy the other 50% that is not renewable to buy it from right here in Illinois, no they are going to buy it where they can buy it the cheapest.
Mr. Moustis stated he thinks both renewable energy and clean energy are important. We are looking at putting our own solar plant by the Juvenile facility.
Mr. Kraulidis asked is B rated EPA Green. How many surrounding Counties are EPA Green.
Ms. Bluemar stated she will look it up for him, but she believed there are several.
Mr. English stated since last week they were able to negotiate the electric prices down slightly which results in anywhere from $3000 - $1500/year savings depending on the renewable percentage. They are also working on the language in the gas contract, they are having them hold the price from last week so the price from Vanguard Energy for 36 months is $2.94 per dekathurm compared to the historical rate the County has been paying $4.89 which results in an estimated $136,000 annual savings. There is no renewable side to the gas just the electric. So the savings for 50% is $17,761/year and 100% is $12,500. Constellation Energy is owned by Exelon.
Mr. Tumenillo asked how many municipalities or counties are jumping in at 100% vs sticking to the 12% because at 12% we save more money.
Ms. Bluemar stated the 12% is a state mandate that the utility has to procure that amount.
Mr. Tuminello noted that if we didn’t even go to 50% we would save even more money.
Ms. Bluemar responded that was true.
Mr. Bennefield asked why we have to start at 50%, this is a big leap.
VII. Public Comment
Handout from Brian Conser, Will County Sheriff's Dept. at Committee
Mr. Conser stated the County Board is underpaid for what you do and so are some of the County Officers. He wanted to give everyone a CPI, Consumer Price Index. When the salaries were set in 2008, this calculator shows what the value of those dollars are in today’s dollars as opposed to what they were then. On the bottom there are labels of all of them. He has the Resolutions from the past and why it wasn’t passed, on the back he did a comparison with the Counties that was prepared for Executive meeting. All he wants to do is give you this information so that everyone can make an informed decision. Mr. Moustis stated that before these salaries were set at the current rate, Elected Officials including the County Board were given substantial pay increases. 15-20% increases to get them up to their current level. There was a period of time that these substantial increases went way beyond what any CPI would have been. In a short period of time the County Board salaries went from $13,500 to $20,000 over a couple of terms. Mr. Conser reviewed one handout that shows what collar counties and neighboring counties get.
Mr. Moustis wants to point out this is very valid.
Ms. Ogalla asked if these are the salaries other counties get, she is wondering what is the difference in benefits that these counties receive. Are they on IMRF still, do they get health insurance and if so what is the rate they pay etc.
Mr. Conser stated he didn’t have a lot of time to get that information together. All of the union’s in this county get a cost of living increase, there has been nothing in the last 10 years for anyone else.
VIII. Chairman's Report / Announcements
Mr. Fricilone explained as far as the temporary loan what they are doing is since they didn’t appropriate the money when they were doing the budget, the money that is already there for Animal Control to build the building, we can’t use that money in this fiscal year/budget cycle. So what they are going to do is take some bond proceeds, borrow that and appropriate that money out of Animal Control Fund to put back into the bond proceeds next year. So December 1 the money will be back there.
Mr. Bennefield asked what the amount of the loan is.
Mr. Moustis responded a budget around $2.5 million, they will move money as necessary.
IX. Executive Session
Next Meeting - May 17, 2018