URBANA — Champaign County Board members approved a tax levy increase and a fiscal year 2013 budget Tuesday night, plus made some county history.
Every board member was in attendance for what was the final meeting of the 27-member board. Since 1972 the board has had three members from each of nine districts.
But beginning next Monday it will consist of 22 members, 12 Democrats and 10 Republicans, with two members each from 11 districts. Champaign County voters approved cutting the size of the board in a referendum two years ago.
It also was the final meeting for nine retiring board members, including board Chair C. Pius Weibel of Champaign and finance committee chair Brendan McGinty of Urbana, who both were given commemorative plaques by the Republican board members before the board meeting.
"We are in the process of losing a lot of our expertise. They are going to be greatly missed," said Republican caucus leader John Jay of Mahomet.
In presenting the plaque to Weibel, Jay said "we are very grateful for the cooperation you have given us over the years, maybe not enough."
The new county board chair will be chosen at Monday night's organizational meeting. Michael Richards of Champaign is the Democratic Party's nominee for the post.
In between the accolades extended to the retiring board members, including former board Chair Steve Moser, a Republican, and wrapping up the county's fiscal year, the board also voted on a number of significant issues.
It approved amending the nursing home board's bylaws, removing a sunset clause that eventually could have resulted in the board's elimination. Two members also were appointed to the nursing home board, current board member Dr. Robert Palinkas of Danville and new member Mary Hodson of Champaign.
It also OK'd a rezoning request to allow for the expansion of the Sangamon Valley Public Water District treatment plant in Mahomet.
And it approved 25-2, but without discussion, a property tax levy that is about 3.3 percent higher than the current year's. The higher levy is expected to result in an approximately 4 percent increase in the county property tax rate.
The board unanimously approved a $32.6 million general corporate fund budget. The fund is ending the current year with a balance of more than $4 million.
And it OK'd issuing $914,000 in tax anticipation notes to boost the cash balance at the nursing home.