By Lisa Rodgers


BOONE COUNTY-On Wednesday, Sept.16, the Boone County Board held its monthly meeting. On the agenda was the request for not-for-profits (NFP’s) to pay fees for food permits.

Upon arrival at the meeting, the parking lot was a sea of cars and additional chairs were being added for the public who were in attendance.

The meeting was called to order and all board members were present.  A motion to move item 12 to the beginning of the meeting was approved. Item 12 had a motion to approve ordinance 15-23 Amending Boone County Code, fees for not-for-profits.

The Health and Human Services Committee approved the request on Sept. 3 in a 3-1 vote in favor.  The request originated with the Boone County Health Department (BCHD).

Discussion began and would continue for about 90 minutes as multiple people had signed up for public comment.

Early on in the discussion, Boone County Board member Cathy Ward informed the board and public that she had submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to the BCHD and had obtained a list that reflected a total of 95 not-for-profits that requested food permits in the past year.

“We are not directly affected by this decision, but we are also not in favor of it.  It would add more hardship to the not-for-profits that they are already going through.  They are already working on a shoestring,” said a representative of United Way.

“Our church has a Wednesday supper and we are very passionate about it.  We put in a lot of time and effort and it’s something deep within our hearts.  This is the perfect chance for you to show how much you value our non-for-profits,” Ann Turner said.

“I went to the BCHD website and pulled information in regards to their finances.  One of the items listed is $35,000 in interest they received from their bank account.  How much money do they have in the bank?  Especially in this economy to receive that type of interest.  And yet they are here asking for money.  They also have a $15,000 slush fund,” Toria Funderburg said.

“The not-for-profits are the backbone of the county.  These NFP’s provide food and clothing that you would not be able to provide.  If you start nickel and diming them they will not continue.  All the proceeds the Granges make at the Boone County Fair are returned back into the community,” Marion L. Thornberry Legislative Director, Illinois State Grange, and former Boone County Board Member said.

In July of 2015, Boone County ranked 17 out of 102 counties in Illinois for unemployment at 6.8 percent.  It’s up over 1.1 percent from June’s rate of 5.7 percent.  Winnebago County is ranked 9 in Illinois with a July 2015 rate of 7.2 percent unemployment.  Statistics provided by

The only individual from the audience to speak in favor of the fees for the NFP’s was Boone County Board of Health member Liz Fiorenza.

In an article published Sept. 13 in the Rockford Register Star and written by Staff Writer Ben Stanley, BCHD Director of Environmental Services Bill Hatfield provided the following explanation as to the need of the fees for NFP’s.

“One of the things that’s getting overlooked here is this is a user fee,” Hatfield said.

“A not-for-profit is choosing to drive down the food highway, and there’s rules, and inspections. They could choose to drive down a road that is not food. They could sell sports equipment.  They could sell Popsicle sticks.

They could do whatever kind of fundraiser they want and not even have to worry about a food permit. But they’re choosing to do food, and the general public needs to have assurance that the food that’s being offered meets the public health code … and there are expenses involved.”

“Hatfield said the cost of health inspections has risen over the past 40 years as health codes expanded and more stringent rules were put in place.”

A roll call vote was taken with the following results.  Bob Walberg, Chairman-No, Paul Larson-Vice Chairman-Yes, Sherry Branson-Yes, Jeffrey Carlisle-No, Denny Ellingson-Abstain with no explanation, Kenny Freeman-No, Sherry Giesecke-Yes, Karl Johnson-absent, Raymond Larson- Abstain with no explanation, Brad Stark-No, Craig Schultz-No, and Cathy Ward-No.

Final outcome was three voting yes, six voting no, two abstained.  Karl Johnson was not present as he left prior to the vote.  Motion failed.

NFP’s in Boone County will not have to pay a food permit fee.

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