The Massac County Commission has agreed with Vistra on a payment in lieu of taxes until 2025.
State’s Attorney Josh Stratemeyer brought the agreement to the commission’s meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 2, which was attended in person by Commissioner Jerel Childers. Commissioner Jayson Farmer was not physically present for the board meeting, but listened and interacted by telephone from his work site. Commission Chairman Jeff Brugger was absent.
Stratemeyer said Vistra, the parent company of Joppa’s Electric Energy Inc. plant, reached out several months ago regarding the plant’s September 2022 closure and the fact the assessed value will dramatically decrease at that time. The agreement breaks down the payments per year until 2025.
Stratemeyer said the agreement helps everyone out and Vistra has done similar agreements in other areas. The process would be “friendly litigation.” Stratemeyer noted the Joppa-Maple Grove School District accepted the agreement at its Oct. 27 meeting, and they are the taxing district that will be affected the most.
Childers asked what happens after 2025. Stratemeyer said the agreement says the property is going to be turned into a battery storage site and will be assessed accordingly, adding even though he doesn’t represent the other taxing bodies, he will be the one appearing in court for them so they do not have to send anyone.
Farmer made a motion to accept the Joppa Station Settlement Agreement and gave Brugger the authority to sign any and all documents pertaining to the agreement on behalf of the county and road district. Childers seconded the motion.
Massac County Sheriff Chad Kaylor informed commissioners the department will need to start buying body cameras. There will be grants to buy the cameras, but the maintenance and storage will be an extra cost. He does not see any additional funds needed for that, however.
Farmer asked treasurer Jody Haverkamp about the status of the county’s audit. Haverkamp said she has not had much response to emails she has sent the auditors and her office is working with local CPA Randy Rushing to correct and complete bank reconciliations. Haverkamp said she has also emailed the auditors asking for adjusted entries. Haverkamp and Farmer each expressed concerns and their wanting the audit completed.
In other business
• The commissioners approved the lease agreement between the Massac County and the Shawnee Development Council. The one-year lease will be Dec. 1, 2021, through Dec. 1, 2022.
• The commissioners approved two budget amendments made by EMA director Brian Horn — one transferring $2,000 from the printing and publication account to the telecommunication account; and one transferring $1,000 from the office supplies account to the telecommunication account.
• County Highway Engineer Joe Matesevac discussed how his department is spending more in fuel this year due to the increased cost. Last year, the department spent $76,000; this year, they will spend about $140,000; and in 2022, he anticipates $160,000.
• Three county employees attended the meeting questioning a letter mailed to all county employees from Mutual Medical stating the insurance company is holding checks due to money not being transferred and authorized. Haverkamp said she has to transfer money to cover the bills, and she wants to reimburse the employees first. Farmer said the county needs to do a better job of keeping the bills up to date. Haverkamp agreed and said she will look into the unpaid bills she receives from county employees.
• Richard Merrill, owner of Air Pro, attended the meeting to discuss the bid for the new HVAC unit at the detention center. Merrill said the units he quoted will not be available until March 2022. A third option is available in six weeks and can be installed around Christmas at no increased cost if a down payment of $23,686 is made. The commissioners asked about an extended warranty, which Merrill will check into. Farmer and Childers agreed to putting the deposit down.
• Kaylor said the sheriff’s office has brought in $16,000 for the county’s general fund from housing prisoners from other counties. He noted the department is currently $19,900 over budget in dieting prisoners, and thinks it will be around $25,000 to $27,000 by the end of the year. He said he is well under budget on other line items to cover that by the end of the year.
• Matesevac anticipates the County Highway Department to receive its new chipping machine in the next two weeks.
• And, Haverkamp reported the county’s general fund balance is $9,023.
The county commission’s next regular meeting will be at 8:45 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 16.