News Report Staff

Effingham County Board on Monday agreed to cut positions from the Economic Development Board with two members facing scheduling conflicts with the group’s meetings.

County Board Vice Chairman Dave Campbell explained two members of that advisory board were unable to attend meetings and that has caused concern with meeting a quorum sometimes for conducting business.

The vote was unanimous for reducing the economic development board’s membership down to eight. Roll call was answered by board members Campbell, Jeff Simpson, John Perry, Lloyd Foster, Rob Arnold, Joe Thoele, Doug McCain and Karen Luchtefeld.

The board also agreed to amend public comment standards and video or recording rules for county board meetings. The board previously approved those rules that limit public comments from 2 to 5 minutes with the option for extending speaking time if needed. Videographers will also be required to place large cameras on tripods and set their equipment in the fourth row of the public seating area without blocking the view of other audience members.

A new rule on removing disruptive speakers was discussed. Perry asked what the standard would be for asking someone to leave the meeting or having a law officer physically remove someone from the meeting room.

“What is a disruption?” Perry asked. “When do we say enough is enough?”

Board member Rob Arnold said one consideration for that judgment is when the board cannot conduct its business due to someone being disruptive past their speaking time. He said the board should consider the County Sheriff’s discretion, especially when the situation might become dangerous to the board members or members of the audience. These rules would apply to advisory committee meetings as well.

County Board Chairman Jim Niemann explained the removal rule would not automatically apply to someone who exceeded their speaking time. Instead, it would be applied when the person refuses to engage in a discussion with respect to the board’s authority. He said Roberts Rules of Order on conducting government meetings does allow for control of the discussions by those heading the board or committee meetings.

In other business, board members accepted a letter of engagement with West & Co. on the terms of the upcoming county financial audit. The costs, based on the letter, are not to exceed $38,200.

The board offered support for the county to join a class action lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors. This lawsuit will not cut into local funds and will involve many local government entities as a way to fight the opioid addiction crisis that has swept the country in recent years. Effingham County State’s Attorney Bryan Kibler said he will present a formal resolution during the next county board meeting.

The board declined to approve a proclamation for National School Choice Week in Effingham County due to questions about the organization supporting the effort, which was questioned by the Regional Superintendent’s office. Board member Lloyd Foster was not opposed to the wording of the proclamation, but asked what was behind it. Campbell asked where the proclamation came from.

Perry, who saw nothing wrong with the proclamation, offered a motion to approve but the board discussion showed no consensus to produce a second. The motion failed without a second offered.

Action was also taken on amending the non-union salary schedule regarding a deputy coroner position to comply with state labor statutes.