CAMBRIDGE — Henry County Board members recently got their first detailed look at the county's draft budget for 2020, which is a zero deficit plan for the third year in a row.

In early 2017, the board passed a resolution calling for zero-deficit budgets for fiscal years 2018 and 2019. There was no such resolution in place this year, but Kelli Parsons, finance committee chair, said the committee aimed for the same goal.

In the budget that was shown to the board last week, general fund revenues and expenditures are balanced at $11,186,551. 

Parsons said one of the factors making the budget possible was the expectation of the resumption of host fees for the Atkinson landfill, which had been closed but recently changed ownership.

"They're going to help this year, just like wind farms helped in the past," she said.

She issued a caution about the county having the money for future pay increases, some of which will be necessary to meet a new $15 minimum wage.

"We're not going to have that revenue unless something changes," she said.

She said a 2% non-union pay increase this year is affordable only because Colleen Gillaspie, the former county administrator, set aside the money for it.

The regular board meeting followed the special session to review the budget, and it was announced that board member Jacob Waller has submitted a letter of resignation.

Waller ran afoul of the LGBTQ community for remarks he made about two women who won a radio contest in early 2017. His attendance at board meetings had been so spotty that the board chairman talked to him about it recently.

The Henry County Republican Central Committee will suggest replacements for Waller, a District 1 Republican, within 60 days to Marshall Jones, county board chairman, and Jones will submit his recommendation to the board.

The board also:

• Discussed the effect legalization of marijuana will have on the county.

Kippy Breeden, chair of the executive committee, said the sheriff and state's attorney will attend the next executive committee meeting to cover what the county will need to do to prepare for the sales of cannabis in unincorporated areas, and zoning requirements and enforcement.

Board member Roger Gradert asked whether the county would have to vote to approve any sales in the county.

Yes, said Breeden. She said the county would receive an additional 3% sales tax on top of the regular sales tax for sales within any municipality.

"It is a revenue source, and that's what our county looked at it as," she said.

Board member Ned Richardson stressed there are many unknowns. "There are a lot of unanswered questions with this. We had to work with the best information we had. We're still working on this," he said.

• Approved a $50,000 Rural Revolving Loan Fund loan to the new owners of Becker and Becker of Geneseo, the second largest heating and air-conditioning business in Geneseo. Board members were told the loan would prevent a loss of eight jobs and enable the addition of more employees.


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