QUINCY -- The new Adams County Jail's opening date has been pushed back once again.
The Adams County Board learned Tuesday that the jail's "substantial completion date," which had already been delayed until Dec. 15, has been pushed back even farther to Jan. 31.
Mark Peter, chairman of the board's Jail Subcommittee, said the jail project is gradually "winding up," but it's simply going to take longer than expected to get everything finished before prisoners can be moved into the facility.
"There is just so much technical equipment and electronics and things. It's just going to take more time to get all of that done," Peter said.
"It was the consensus of the committee and the sheriff and the sheriff's department that the right thing to do is not to rush in and try to put people in the facility. We need to get it just like it needs to be."
Peter said county officials have been hearing from "a lot of people" in the community who want to see the jail before it goes into operation. So the committee is working out a plan to offer some public tours once the jail is just about ready to open.
"It will be after the first of the year for sure," he said.
A formal dedication ceremony will be conducted sometime in the spring.
Also at Tuesday's meeting, the board learned that it's possible the county's property tax levy for the 2019 tax year might increase by more than 5% from last year's levy, which would trigger the need to hold a mandatory public hearing in accordance with the state's "truth in taxation" law.
Finance Committee Chairman Bret Austin said the county's proposed budget and levy are both in the final stages of being prepared, and the amount of the levy is still not known. However, he said the Finance Committee has decided to make plans to conduct a truth in taxation hearing "as a matter of routine course" this year and in future years to give the County Board more flexibility in making last-minute adjustments to the levy, which by law must be approved by the end of December. The levy is one of several variables that determine how much property owners will pay in taxes the following year.
Austin said county officials were told that the county's equalized assessed valuation (EAV) is expected to rise by around 4%. So if the county's aggregate tax levy for its individual funds rises by even 1%, that will push the county over the 5% trigger for holding a hearing.
Austin said one big variable playing into the levy amount is the fact that the county early this year fronted the payment of $1.3 million in expenses for the jail project. This happened before the county issued construction bonds that are now being paid off with a quarter-cent sales tax. He said the Finance Committee now must decide whether to count that $1.3 million expense in this year's budget or transfer it to next year's budget so the county can be fully reimbursed with bond funds. How that payment is handled might impact the county's tax levy and "make it look skewed," Austin said.
For the second straight month the board passed an ordinance establishing a cannabis retailers' occupation tax on all future sales of adult-use marijuana in Adams County.
The tax, which goes into effect Jan. 1, will allow the county to charge a 3.75% tax on adult-use cannabis sales from any dispensary located in an unincorporated area of the county. If the dispensary is inside the city limits of a home-rule city, such as Quincy, the county can impose a 3% tax on top of the 3% tax charged by the city.
Ryan Niekamp, chairman of the Legislative and Judicial Committee, said the ordinance had to be put before the board a second time because last month's version included the words "up to" before stating the proposed tax rates. He said the Illinois Department of Revenue encouraged the county to remove those words from the ordinance so there would be no doubt that the rates would be set at exactly 3.75% and 3%.
In other action Tuesday, the Adams County Board:
• Approved a “code of conduct” for certain county employees and elected officials.
• Awarded a $598,303 contract to Laverdiere Construction, the low bidder, for improvements to Municipal Parking Lot D on Vermont between Sixth and Seventh streets.
• Awarded a $276,600 contract to Applied Research Associates for the renewal of a five-year contract for a pavement management system.
• Approved a plat for the proposed Smith Acres Subdivision in Payson Township.
• Granted the Coatsburg Lions Club a one-day liquor permit for the Honey Creek Deer Classic to be held Oct. 20 at the Paloma Park’s community building.
• Authorized Rita and Gary Speckhart to conduct a fireworks display Nov. 2 at Point D’Vine LLC for a wedding reception.
• Approved an employee handbook spelling out policies for all county employees.
• Appointed Terry Gibson to fill the remainder of an unexpired six-year term on the Adams County Sheriff’s Merit Commission ending Dec. 31.