DANVILLE — Vermilion County Board members will vote Tuesday on a resolution giving residents the choice of starting an electrical aggregation program.
The program would allow the county to combine the residents into a single buying group for electricity. The group — represented by Integrys Energy of Chicago — would then have increased buying power and, as a result, receive more competitive prices.
Vermilion County Board Chairman Jim McMahon described the potential program as a “win-win situation and no risk” for the county and for residents.
He pointed out the issue was recently approved in the March 20 primary election by voters in Champaign County.
“That made me look at what is best for our county,” he said.
Tuesday’s vote would not implement any agreement with Integrys, but rather give the county permission to put the proposal on the ballot for the November general elections.
McMahon said Integrys has worked with local factions, citing its representation as the purchase representative for the Public Building Commission for the last five years as well as the county.
The savings, he said, would be noticeable for each household. He cited figures indicating electricity could be purchased through the aggregation program for 5.1 cents compared to 6.6 cents directly from Ameren. The average savings per household could be as much as $23.
“The advantage is the county can negotiate a rate at the biggest savings we can with 36,000 households in it,” he said.
According to the Citizens Utility Board, five other states have communities that purchase their own power through such programs. Rhode Island and Ohio both estimate the aggregation program has saved more than $18 million per year.
The Illinois General Assembly approved legislation in 2010 that allowed local governments to aggregate the electric power purchasing of residents. More than 200 communities passed aggregation referendums in the March primary election.
McMahon said residents who do not want to participate in the program — if it passes in the November general election — would be able to opt out.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting:
--Representatives for Provena Life Connections will speak to board members regarding the benefits of having Vermilion Manor Nursing Home run by a managerial company.
Provena Life Connections conducted a third-party evaluation of the county-run nursing home in recent months and will lay out a proposed plan for running the facility.
“They will be here to try to convince the board that in today’s environment, a stand-alone facility has a much tougher time with changing laws and environments for nursing homes,” he said.
The presentation will include Provena’s expected charge to run Vermilion Manor — 5 percent of the nursing home’s gross income. McMahon estimated that total could run around $40,000 with no income to the county.
According to evaluations given to board members earlier this year, the county is facing a $2 million problem. That amount indicates the money the county would need to maintain operations if accounts receivable from the state remain unpaid for more than 90 days.
McMahon said he will take the information provided at Tuesday’s meeting back to the nursing home committee to debate a decision.
The nursing home, located along Catlin-Tilton Road, employs a third of the county’s 600-plus employees. Vermilion Manor is one of 26 county-run nursing homes in the state.
--Board members will vote on raises for the county offices on the ballot in the November general election.
A resolution already passed by the county finance committee calls for the circuit clerk, recorder, coroner and auditor to begin the 2012-2013 fiscal year at an annual salary of $60,980 — an increase from the $59,200 the county officials currently receive.
Each official would then receive a 3 percent increase each of the four years, bringing the totals to $66,650 for the 2015-2016 fiscal year.
Under the resolution, the county board chairman’s salary will also be bumped up, going from $61,700 to $65,000.
District 3 board member Rick Knight originally voted for the measure on the committee level, but voiced concern over voters’ opinions. On Friday, Knight said he had changed his stance after hearing from a number of residents against the raises.
“It’s not the people that have the job — I think they’re wonderful people,” he said, noting that he was contacted by several residents. “It’s just with the shape the county is in and that 3 percent over four years is quite a bit of money.”
Knight said he thought just a 1½ percent pay increase would be fair.
Statutes dictate the salaries for almost all of the county offices are set every four years. The deadline to approve the salaries is 180 days from Dec. 1 — the day officeholders begin a new term.
The salary for the state’s attorney — which is also on the county November election ballot — is set by the State of Illinois — which is supposed to pay a portion of the salary. For the 2011-2012 fiscal year, state’s attorney Randy Brinegar is scheduled to make $166,508.
A new salary structure will begin for county board members with the next fiscal year as well. A previous per diem structure will be replaced by a flat fee of $250 per month for the 26 board members. The board members will be docked $50 for each unexcused absence from board or committee meetings.
--Board members are expected to vote on final approval of a permit for the Hoopeston Wind Energy Farm.
The project calls for the construction of 43 wind turbines along a stretch from around 3 miles east of Illinois Route 49 to the area near the Hubbard Trail Country Club north of Rossville.
The permit for the project was first scheduled for vote at the county board’s February meeting. But a last-minute cancellation by GDF SUEZ Energy North America Inc. — the company coordinating the project — prompted the county to reschedule the permit vote to a meeting when company officials would be able to answer questions from the board.
Development of the Hoopeston Wind Energy Farm has been ongoing since 2008. Prior to being dropped from February’s agenda, the timetable called for it to be completed by 2014.