Courthouse committee gets county board support


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Originally Posted Online: March 19, 2013, 9:46 pm
Last Updated: March 20, 2013, 12:03 am
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By Eric Timmons, etimmons@qconline.com

The Rock Island County Board has given a vote of confidence to the special county committee established to determine what to do with the county's courthouse.

The 13-member ad hoc committee includes two county board members, the sheriff and local business people selected by Rock Island County Board Chairman Phil Banaszek, D-Moline.

Mr. Banaszek proposed the vote of confidence in response to concerns by some ad hoc committee members that the county board would ignore or not take seriously its recommendation.

The panel has been asked to make a recommendation on the future of the courthouse and other county buildings to the county board. County officials say the courthouse is in disrepair and needs to be replaced.

An April 9 referendum asks voters if they support expanding the authority of the county's public building commission, which would allow it to finance a new courthouse or any other county building project.

At Tuesday's meeting, the county board voted 23-0 in favor of the "resolution of support" in the work of the ad hoc committee. However, the resolution was altered at the request of county board member Drue Mielke, R-Coal Valley, who wanted to change a section stating the board acknowledged the usefulness of county buildings has "expired."

Mr. Mielke said the wording could give the impression the county board already had made up its mind about the courthouse and county office building.The board agreed, replacing "expired" with "seriously degraded."

Rock Island County Board member Kim Callaway-Thompson, D-Rock Island, who co-chairs the ad hoc committee, said the vote of confidence does not mean the board automatically will accept the panel's recommendation.

The county board also voted 20-3 on Tuesday to delay an electric transmission agreement with Rock Island Clean Line LLC. The company wants to run a high-powered transmission line through the northern part of the county, but the project has been opposed by landowners.

The county's finance and public works committees have approved an agreement with Rock Island Clean Line that would see the county earn about $62,000 per year for 20 years from the project.

Landowners opposed to the project wanted to speak against it at Tuesday's meeting, but failed to give 48 hours of notice of their intentions as required by county rules.

Rock Island County Board member Chris Filbert, R-Cordova, said it would be "rude" for the county to vote on the agreement without giving opponents a chance to air their views. Rock Island County Board member Ken "Moose" Maranda, D-Milan, countered that opponents had known about the county's plans for months.

The authority to allow the transmission line to run through Illinois rests with the state, said Rock Island County Board member Don Jacobs, D-East Moline. He said the county was making sure it receives some revenue from the project if the state gives the green light.





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