By Lisa Rodgers


BOONE COUNTY: Once again the Boone County Board is being asked to approve food permit fees for nonprofit (NFP) organizations.

The Boone County Board denied a previous request. Originating from Boone County Health Department (BCHD) staff followed by approval by the Boone County Board of Health, the request was forwarded to Boone County Health and Human Services Committee for discussion and vote.

On Sept. 3, the Health and Human Services Committee (HHS) had its monthly meeting and on their agenda was the fee request from the BCHD.  Committee members present were Chairman Paul Larson, Sherry Giesecke, Raymond Larson, and Cathy Ward, Ex-Official Bob Walberg, and Vice-Chairman Sherry Branson was absent.

Discussion began and at the onset Cathy Ward stated she had just come from a Keen Age meeting prior to the HHS Committee meeting.  Ward brought forth that she had heard the laws were changing and that rhubarb might now be permissible.

Public Health Administrator Cynthia Frank and Director of Environmental Health Bill Hatfield were seated at the table and included in the discussion.  Neither Frank nor Hatfield responded either confirming or refuting Ward’s statement.

“Taxpayers are publically subsidizing the NFP’s by not having fees on the food permits.  The health department is losing revenue.  Based on the NFP applications the health department has lost $18,370 in total fees not collected.  This would have been collected without a waiver.  It is a total loss of revenue,” Hatfield said.

Further discussion continued and the amount with a resolution of 50 percent of the regular fee was proposed.

Votes as cast: Chairman Paul Larson-Yes; Sherry Giesecke-Yes; Raymond Larson-Yes; Cathy Ward-No; Vice-Chairman Sherry Branson-Absent.

It should be noted there was dissent from the audience stating that Chairman Paul Larson should not have voted.  It was stated he should only vote in a tie.  Vote stood as cast.

With approval, the request now moves to county board for a vote on Sept. 16.  Only the full Boone County Board has the authority to either approve or deny the request of fees.

Cathy Ward who was the only “No” vote had the following comment, “Once again the Boone County Health Department wants to snatch a part of the proceeds from volunteer groups working hard to help our county and community by seeking a fee for each food permit issued for not-for-profit groups. I opposed this a couple years ago when they proposed this and still do.”

When asked how much the fee would be, Boone County official Bill Hatfield replied,
“What is the speed limit in Illinois?’

The Health Department receives money every time we pay property taxes. They also receive grants to run their departments.

Hatfield says the health department is a not-for-profit group, too.

Part of the problem here is the public relations disaster this department has created through the years, and now if this passes, it will be harder still to convince the good people (regarding the health department) of our county that ‘We’re from the government. We’re here to help’,” said Cathy Ward Boone County Board Member District 3.

At the same time fees are being requested from the BCHD, Illinois State Legislators introduced and approved legislation effective Jan. 1, 2016 to amend the Food Handling Regulation Enforcement Act 410 ILCS 625/ and offer exemption from the law for non-profits in regards to fundraisers. While conducting research on Sept. 3, the following website provided information:

At three separate meetings that included BCHD staff Aug. 31, Sept. 2 and Sept. 3 no information/comments were provided in regards to the new law effective Jan. 2016.

The next Boone County Board meeting will be held Sept. 16 at 6:30 p.m. at 1204 Logan Ave. in Belvidere in the Administrative Building.


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