Between housing a high number of inmates, higher food prices and COVID-19’s impact on supply and demand, the food budget at the Massac County Detention Center is maxing out.

Massac County Sheriff Chad Taylor discussed the matter with Massac County commissioners during their meeting Tuesday. Commissioner Jayson Farmer was not physically present for the meeting, but listened and interacted by telephone from his work site.

Kaylor said the jail count has been fluctuating, but Tuesday morning’s number was 41 inmates, 12 of whom are from Johnson County.

“This is the first of October, and we’ve got three months (on the current budget year) to feed prisoners. I don’t know (what line item) we’ll need to get the money from, but we can do it,” he said. “The overall budget will be under, but that (food) line item needs to be adjusted. Maybe next year, we can look at other lines we realized we’re not going to be using and put it toward that.”

Kaylor noted he had increased the line item for this year’s food budget by $10,000 “because we were running close before. We’re about to max out now. We knew that was probably going to happen.”

The jail began serving inmates TV dinners several years ago. Kaylor said those prices are going up 50 cents to $1.20 apiece.

“That doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up over time,” he said. “We’re probably going to have to find something else that’s a little bit cheaper.”

Kaylor noted the payment from Johnson County for housing its prisoners “should offset some of those (food) costs, but that doesn’t take away from that line item being maxed out.”

He added he is still waiting for an offer from the Illinois Department of Corrections for housing inmates who have been sentenced to those facilities but not yet admitted. He said DOC is “not accepting” those inmates “like they used to” as COVID has changed the procedure.

Kaylor also noted the courthouse maintenance line item of the county budget is almost depleted. He said there should be enough supplies on hand for the rest of the year until the new budget is approved. He said if something needs to be ordered, the money could be taken from another line item.

County Treasurer Jody Haverkamp told the commissioners her office was busy Monday, which was the second installment deadline for tax bills. She said 476 parcels, totaling some $350,000, were received.

“Several paid online yesterday. That’s picked up quite a bit,” she said.

She said the “friendly reminder” letter will come out Friday, Oct. 8, to those who have yet to pay. Out of Massac County’s 10,996 active parcels, 2,239 parcels are pending. She said that number is comparable to last year when right at 2,000 “friendly reminders” were mailed out.

She said the office is still to receive payments made via City National Bank and that were mailed in.

Haverkamp also noted there were 64 total certificates of errors, totaling $66,000, issued on parcels where mistakes were found in the tax bill process.

In addition, 120 out of 695 mobile home tax payments are also pending.

“We still have $1.8 million to collect. We’ve collected $13 million so far,” she said. “The second disbursement will go out next week, then there won’t be anything else until after the tax sale.”

The tax sale has been set for 2 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 15. Payments can be made to the Treasurer’s Office dropbox, in person, by mail or online.

Commissioners asked Haverkamp the progress of the county’s audit. She said she has emailed the auditors asking “specifics of what they are wanting. We have sent them the same thing they have requested two and three different times. I have asked them to send me their audit adjustment because we have not been given that information. If they have their adjustments and we don’t have ours, we’re not ever going to match.”

In other business:

• County highway engineer Joe Matesevac informed the commission he will be putting out for bids in November for box culvert replacements on Walnut Ridge Road, Rosebud Road at Round Knob and Upper Salem Road just west of the railroad track.

• Geoff Crippen was appointed to serve on the Massac County Hospital District Board. He will fill the spot previously held by Tommy Reed.

• Haverkamp reported the county’s general fund balance is $181,606.73, prior to the payment of bills and payroll.

• Kaylor informed the commissioners that as new vehicles are rotated into the sheriff’s office, they are being outfitted with new HD video cameras “to keep up with technology.” He noted the fleet’s current cameras are 5 to 7 years old.

• Kaylor also informed the commissioners he had spoken with Kristy Stephenson regarding the use of the county’s American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 funding to replace the detention center’s HVAC system. Kaylor submitted the three bids he has received for the project and asked it be voted on at the next meeting. The current HVAC system is original to the building. Stephenson is the county’s independent contractor for professional legal, financial and development consulting services in the utilization of the county’s allocated ARPA funds.

• And, the commission approved the county’s 2022 holiday schedule.

The county commission’s next regular meeting will be at 8:45 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 19.

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