Will County Democratic Caucus Committee met January 17
Will County Democratic Caucus Committee met Jan. 17.
Here is the minutes provided by the committee:
I. CALL TO ORDER / ROLL CALL
Majority Leader Mark Ferry called the meeting to order at 8:45 AM
|Mark Ferry||Majority Leader||Present|
|Tyler Marcum||Majority Whip||Present|
|Herbert Brooks Jr.||Member||Present|
|Kenneth E. Harris||Member||Present|
|Donald A. Moran||Member||Present|
|Jacqueline Traynere||Member||Late||9:10 AM|
|Denise E. Winfrey||Speaker||Late||9:15 AM|
Present from State's Attorney's Office: M. Tatroe
II. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE TO THE FLAG
Mrs. Rice Led the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.
III. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
IV. OLD BUSINESS
V. NEW BUSINESS
1. Discussion of County Board Agenda
Mr. Ferry said before we get to the County Board Agenda. Mrs. Jakaitis gave me a sign-up sheet which I will pass around so that everybody can sign up for the Pledge of Allegiance and to provide the Clergy for the County Board Meeting. When you do sign up you will be responsible to provide the Clergy for that meeting. You will need to provide about a minute bio from the clergy, they will typically have one available to give you. You will then provide it to Mrs. Jakaitis so she may edit it to the right amount of time. We will now move on to the County Board Agenda.
Land Use & Development Committee:
Mr. Harris reviewed the Ordinance’s coming before the County Board.
Ms. Rice said she had a question on item number three. I know on the solar farm there was complete support in the vote. Were there any concerns about the solar farm that might come up?
Mr. Radner answered the conditions that are on this case are very similar to the conditions that are on all the Solar Farm cases to address all of those State Regulations. There are sometimes unique conditions because they are unique to the site, which there are some of those conditions on this permit as well. It is the same thing that we look for out of every solar company. To address your concern there was one person at PZC that did speak out against the Solar Farm. At the Land Use Committee nobody showed up to speak about it. The one person who had a concern was a neighbor, they were concerned whether it was an appropriate use in this area, the Commission found appropriate and they forwarded the recommendation to Land Use Committee and it was voted 7-0 to approve.
Mr. Harris went on to review the final Zoning Case ZC-18-080.
Mr. Radner said we did receive comment from IDNR that they are looking for a particular type of fencing to make sure it doesn’t interrupt a pattern of the way the turtles travel around in that area. The want to make sure they could not get into the facility. It does require fencing to the ground. IDNR wanted to be aware of the site plan.
Mr. Harris asked Mr. Radner if he could explain Zoning Case -17-036.
Mr. Radner said this is another Solar Farm that received Board approval last January. After one year the special use becomes invalid if it’s not put to use, unless you request an extension. The Ordinance allows up to two extensions of 180 days. This is the first extension request. The reason why they are asking for the extension is the lottery for who can be awarded a solar site will be coming up within the next week. They were not able to complete the project yet because nobody has been awarded a project yet. They are asking for 6 more months of an extension. If they are awarded the lottery and decide to build then they can do it. If they are not awarded the lottery there will be another lottery, we are not sure of that date. But they have will have another opportunity to ask for six more months of an extension in June. I also want to remind the members that you will only be voting on the Special Use Permit, the variance were approved by the Planning & Zoning Commission.
Mr. Harris reviewed the items and stated that they are all pretty straight forward. We are also planning a Budget Workshop. It will most likely be on March 8. We will be working with Ms. Johannsen, Ms. Howard and Ms. Hennessy on the budget process.
Public Works Committee:
Mr. Moran reviewed the items going before the Board and stated it is pretty standard, they are things we have been working on for years.
Mr. Marcum stated the next Judicial meeting will be on February 5th.
Mr. Brooks added yesterday he met with Chief Judge Schoenstedt who also made a presentation to the Judicial Committee about the Expungement Fair that will be coming up on June 22nd. We have finalized everything and now you will see that it will start being publicized on the website.
Public Health & Safety Committee:
Ms. Summers reviewed information on the contract for Pharmaceutical & Consulting Services at Sunny Hill Nursing Home. Also our next meeting will be on February 6th. We will be going to Sunny Hill we are going to be doing a brief meeting, a tour and they will be providing lunch for us.
Legislative & Policy Committee.
Ms. Rice said we are supporting the Regulation of Air Ambulances and asked Mr. Moran to review the information.
Mr. Moran said the National Association of Counties, I am the Vice Chair of the Airport Sub Committee. Each year that I have been on the NACo leadership we have brought a resolution to Will County addressing concerns. Over the last several years there has been a FAA reauthorization including revoked tower technology. The FAA was reauthorized for 5 years this past fall the bill was signed. The resolutions that we take to the NACo Legislative Conference become their policies, those are the things that they lobby for in Washington DC. The one that we have today is a resolution to support the Regulation of Air Ambulances under the Airline Deregulation Act. When they deregulated the Airline Industries some think by mistake they deregulated Air Ambulance. What happen, is they now are allowed to charge whatever amount they want. From 2010 to 2014 the median prices providers charged for Helicopter Air Ambulance Services have doubled from $15,000 to $30,000 per transport. Sometimes they can go over $50,000. In about 2010 there were about 300 to 400 Air Ambulance Services in the United States, now there are about 900 Air Ambulance Services. Insurances and Medicare don’t cover that much money. So now they back bill the patient or the family, they have no choice but to pay the bill or file bankruptcy. Because it’s 10’s of thousands of dollars that they are personally responsible for. This is a decision made when someone is clearly not thinking. Or you’re on the side of the road and some first responder is making the decision for you whether you’re going by Air Ambulance. Several years ago NACo was considering lobbying for legislation that would put them back under some sort of regulation. Some states have tried to regulate them, the Federal Courts have found that they were deregulated with the Airline Industry therefore States can regulate.
Ms. Rice commented that the Legislative Committee is working on the development of both the State and Federal Agenda. It is really important if there are issues to be brought forward that we hear from people before the next committee meeting so we can discuss it, revise it and get it on a vote on the agenda.
Ms. Traynere stated that the next Legislative Committee meeting will be Monday February 11, 2019, which is a reschedule because of the County holiday on Tuesday the 12th.
Capital Improvement Committee.
Mr. Brooks said we don’t have anything to bring forward, but we have an update on Capitol Projects. We do have a date for ground breaking for the Health Department, it will be Tuesday February 5 at 1:00 pm. My next meeting for Capital Improvement is scheduled for February 5, 2019 @ 11:00 am.
Ms. Winfrey asked if anyone had questions on any of the items.
Mr. Brooks said on item one we have been kicking this can down the hallway for a very long time the Public Building Commission to refund excess Will County Funds. We are finally there; where we will be transferring that money?
Ms. Winfrey said we do have a resolution to that effect. Ms. Johannsen and Ms. Howard have worked that out with that board so it is settled to refund that money. We will be receiving 130,000. I know the agreement between the Village of Diamond and the County of Will for the expansion of the Diamond Enterprise Zone.
Mr. Van Duyne said there is a gentleman here today that contacted me. He is with the Area #1 Minors Club, that’s a hunting and fishing club, encompassed by Diamond and a part of Will County. They are in fear of losing their open space designation. Their attorney is telling them that if we pass this resolution that they will lose open space designation which in turn make them pay back taxes.
Mr. Palmer said Enterprise Zones are one of our better tools because it has no negative impact on the county. It gives people within the zones a tax free on the construction materials for the zone. If you are building a major project like this plant, which is a billion dollar project, it will save them a lot on the state tax on the construction material. So that’s an incentive; we have done a couple of these and it is a little complicated. This particular one is unique because Diamond is partially in Will and partially in Grundy. The project is actually on the Grundy County side. They came to us with this project asking to work with us and make this project go. It is really connectivity in the zone because you have to draw the boundary line. We are talking about a three foot strip through this property. I think the information the resident is getting is incorrect. Number one it is a three foot strip and has no impact on the underlying property. The action we are taking is passing a resolution with an IGA attached. The resolution will be signed if you approve it, but the IGA will not be signed until we come back to the board which won’t happen till a Public Hearing because that is a requirement. There has to be a Public Hearing and there has to be certain notifications that have to be met. It is my understanding that the Mayor has told the resident that she will contact them and make them aware of when the Public Hearing will be. I also believe that he has been told that this does not have an impact on them. We have also talked to Rhonda Novak our Supervisor of Assessments who agrees with that. It's a fly over, it's a three foot strip, and you can't develop much in 3 feet. It has no tax implications. He has an open space property, it's not going to impact that. We are going to pass a resolution; we are not going to take action on the IGA until we have an ordinance. If you look at the resolution it is missing certain information. The only way we fill in the blanks is if we pass the ordinance. This will not be impacted, it will not change the tax status or impact anything that they have existing. Some may ask why we are doing this, it's not benefiting Will County directly. We do these things in collaboration with communities that are within Will County or just overlap or just our neighbors because it's good policy. The jobs that are going to be created, because there are going to be a lot of them, will be open to anybody, so our residents can go right across the border and work there. It is part of economic development. It’s a good project and I think we should move forward today. Because there is still an opportunity if something goes sideways you can still turn this ordinance down and the project will not go forward. Diamond and Grundy County wanted to come here first to get the issue on your radars. Know if you are completely opposed to doing this because it's not benefiting Will County directly then they would not proceed. They just want to know that we are interested in moving it along. This is not final action by any means on this project, so there are still opportunities to ask questions as we go forward.
Ms. Winfrey added Mayor Kernc was here at Excutive Committee and talked about this particular thing. Mrs. Tatroe do you have something to add?
Mrs. Tatroe advised yes but it’s not relative to the issue that the residents has. I just wanted to correct one thing. This enterprise zone is slightly different than most in that it does call for the County to wave its portion of any sales tax. But its three feet. I’m not sure what could be constructed within this three feet, maybe a pipeline for the water. It’s not significant.
Mr. Moran added it’s described by the Mayor as a virtual three feet. They are not going to acquire any property, its connectivity between the two zones. Nothing will be built on it.
Mrs. Tatroe said I just wanted to make it clear if they do construct something in that three feet you will be waving the sales tax on any construction materials.
Mr. Palmer added there were questions about annexation. This is not the same thing.
Mrs. Tatroe agreed this is not like a strip annexation at all. In fact under the Enterprise Zone Statute it requires that any connectivity be less than ten feet. So it actually defines the connectivity in a way that if it were an annexation; it would be a strip annexation it would be illegal. But that is not the case with an enterprise zone.
Ms. Ventura asked what they are developing.
Mr. Moran answered a combined cycle power plant.
Ms. Winfrey said she wanted to go over the Governance Rules as a result of our meeting the other day. They are all sorted out with all the changes and additions that we have made except for one addition which is where it says hires and replacement staff of Sunny Hill Nursing Home. We are going to add and maintenance workers in the County Excutive Maintenance Department.
Mr. Palmer added every month you will see hires on the agenda which will come through the Executive Committee so you have had one chance already to see it. Questions will come up and we also have the Boards and Commissions appointments that you get a month in advance. I just want to reiterate. We don’t bring names of hires or appointments unless we feel they are the best qualified or they fit the position. We do have one today there may be no issues and hopefully it goes through. But if there are questions on it; it’s my understanding that the person is qualified they are in the right zone and we hope you’ll approve it. Sometimes in the past there has been questions about board members recommending somebody. We keep all applications if there is a future opening. It is the County’s Excutive role and responsibility to put the names forward and your role and responsibility is to consent to those. We all take that very seriously. If there are ever concerns about appointments or hires please come and ask questions.
VI. OTHER NEW BUSINESS
VII. PUBLIC COMMENT
Phil McCarthy said he is here representing The Area #1 Outdoor Club concerning the enterprise zone that runs across our land. We were just notified of this taking place last Tuesday. The reason we found out it was in the Morris Daily Herald we were never notified by anyone from Diamond. We have had no time to research this. We spoke to our attorney Tim Rathbun he said that this would put our Open Space Act in jeopardy. Because there is a potential for development on that property. We are not against development; we are 100% for people getting good jobs and good paying jobs. Like you said it’s going to employ employ 25 people.
Mr. Moran added but also the construction jobs.
Mr. McCarthy said we are defiantly against it and we would like at least another month so we could research before this vote takes place and we get it shoved down our throat. We own our property; we purchased it in 1965. We own it and we pay our taxes. We have 580 members. We basically want to be left alone, and nothing come across our property. We don’t know what is going to happen yet. They say enterprisers they don’t harm anything, but according to our attorney they do.
Mr. Ferry asked Mr. Harvey to speak to this.
Mr. Harvey said he will echo what Mr. Palmer said its way different than an annexation. A three foot strip in an annexation is usually 300 feet you don’t have continuity it’s a very limited type of zone in terms of what it can do and in terms of the impact. Again I echo what Mrs. Tatroe said it’s just getting continuity and that’s all its doing it; doesn’t have any other effect. We’ve researched it and there is going to be a Public Hearing on it. I know from the emails that I saw that not only has he had contact with Diamond, but the Mayor has promised to contact them personally. I don’t think they can do more, but it’s a policy issue for you folks. I think there is obviously misinformation, but we don’t control that. I think we need to rely on the experts that’s our States Attorney’s Office and Mr. Palmer.
Mrs. Winfrey added I just wanted to remind everybody that it is a policy for us. We are supporting Diamond; it is not the final zone. There will be Public Hearing prior to that. People in Diamond including this club will have the opportunity to do whatever research, bring forward any complaints, concerns they have before we go before the final IGA.
Mr. Ferry asked if there was any other Public Comment.
Mr. Ferry stated the next meeting will be February 21, 2019.
VIII. EXECUTIVE SESSION
1. Motion to Adjourn at 9:25 AM