MONTICELLO – County officials will begin work on the next fiscal year budget this month, but some departments will be getting new equipment thanks in part to the second phase of the American Rescue Plan Act.

The county has received nearly $3.2 million in ARPA funds over the last two years and has already approved several projects including a new HVAC system and electrical upgrades for the Piatt County Nursing Home.

After a preliminary wishlist was formed, County Administrative Consultant Dustin Harmon of Bellwether told the county’s finance committee that some tough decisions have to be made.

“If we greenlight every item, we are over by $350,000,” he said. “We can’t please everybody.”

Last week, the committee recommended a new e-citation system for the circuit clerk’s office for $78,000 and some upgrades to the video surveillance system for the Piatt County Jail for $120,000.

“This is for the jail and includes the interview rooms and jail cameras,” Sheriff Mark Vogelzang said.

The committee also recommended $341,800 for new voting machines for the county clerk’s office.

“We will need time to get them in and train people on them,” said County Clerk Jennifer Harper. “They will be in use for the first election in 2024.”

All recommendations will be forwarded to the county board for consideration at the September meeting.

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Personnel Committee

The county’s personnel committee will not add a remote work policy to its employee policy handbook.

Currently, the county does not have a policy to allow employees to work from home.

“The ability to monitor somebody working from home is very difficult,” said Harmon. “There are a lot of requirements to be put into such a policy and you get into specifics such as reimbursements for home phones or internet service. You have to determine when someone is allowed to work from home and when someone is not allowed to work from home…. At this point, I don’t see a need for this unless someone can make an argument against that.”

County official said the issue arose because the Piatt County 9-1-1 director, Tim Furman works from his home.

“But the Piatt County Emergency Telephone System Board employs the 9-1-1 director,” said County Chairman Ray Spencer. “We do not.”

ETSB officials told Spencer that the ETSB doesn’t have a policy and just follows county policy.

“Well, we don’t have any kind of policy and if we put one in there, I worry that it will create more issues than we already have,” Spencer said. “It’s between Tim Furman and his board on what they want to do.”

The ETSB pays Furman’s salary out of a county surcharge.