Keokuk, IA – Lee County's budget for next year currently shows a drop in the property tax rate. The Board of Supervisors has approved the county's preliminary spending plan. The Urban Property Tax Rate is projected to drop by more than 7%, while the Rural Rate is expected to be cut by about 4%. Chairman George Morgan says the board had to cut taxes in next year's budget, after a more than 30% increase in both rates in the current budget. The Conservation Department will lost 2 employees in next year's spending plan.
Bushnell, IL – Mosaic has a state grant to construct two four-plex group homes in Bushnell. Associate Director Kassie Courson says the Illinois Housing Development Authority has provided $950,000 to construct the two facilities. Courson says they should be completed in about one year. She says there's already a waiting list for developmentally disabled residents who would like to live there. Courson says each home will have four double-occupancy bedrooms and a single communal room with kitchen and living room facilities. Courson expects the homes to be open in about one year.
Pittsfifeld, IL – An Opportunity Returns grant will be used to showcase the diversity possible in western Illinois agriculture. Two Rivers Resosurce Conservation and Development will use the funds to put on four different programs. Martha Shepherd says her staff is planning a forestry workshop, a vinyard tour and seminar and expansion for Quincy's Locally Grown Food festival that's held in connection with an August Farmers Market. She says there will also be a seminar on agritourism, which can include leasing land to hunters.
Macomb, IL – How quickly McDonough County can update its aerial photography might depend on the Warren County budget. McDonough County Board vice chairman Glen Foster says he's trying to work with Warren County to "piggy-back" on some photography planned there. Foster says this would lower the cost of McDonough County's work to $20,000 from $100,000. However, he says the Warren County Board has not yet been able to allocate the funds for its project. Foster says if Warren County cannot have the flights made this spring, it will be next year before McDonough County can get its update.
Macomb, IL – A community survey tried to gauge the feelings of Macomb residents on a host of issues. Among other things, it contains good news for supporters of the half-cent sales tax. The poll found a majority of residents are aware of the tax and they support having the money used for infrastructure improvements. In addition, most likely voters will support extending the tax, which is set to expire within the next couple years. Mayor Mick Wisslead expects a renewal referendum to be placed on the November ballot.
Carthage, IL – The retrial of an accused killer could be held in McDonough County this fall. 27-year old Daniel Ramsey of Keokuk is charged with killing two girls in Hancock County 10 years ago. He's also accused of trying to kill his former girlfriend and two children who were at her home. Ramsey was found guilty in 1997 but the verdict was overturned. Appeals have kept the second trial from getting underway. In Carthage on Monday, deadlines were set for things such as turning over discovery evidence. Prosecutors expect to use new DNA evidence at the second trial.
LaHarpe, IL – All of the school districts in Hancock County are now participating in the state's "Clean School Bus Program." Illinois EPA Director Doug Scott says the program pays to retrofit school buses so they can run on cleaner burning fuels. The state says most of the funding comes from an enforcement case settlement. The program was launched about two years ago and now includes 65 school districts. The latest to join are the LaHarpe and Nauvoo-Colusa Districts, which made Hancock County the first county in the state to have all of its school districts in the program.
Havana, IL – More than $246,000 in state grants will help the Havana Park District improve its Riverfront Park. Director Jill Hills says the money will pay for a walkway to a floating dock, along with a new nature center. The center will include rest room facilities and a snack bar. She says it's designed for observation of riverfront wildlife. Future plans for the district include better parking areas and improvements to the district's boat launching ramps.