By Bob Balgemann


BELVIDERE – A Rockford firm has been hired by Boone County government to serve as its planning consultant for 10 hours a week, at $123 an hour.

The 9-3 vote to approve the employment of Fehr-Graham Engineering and Environmental was taken during the board’s April 20 meeting.

Hiring a consultant was put in motion by the county board’s 8-4 vote Feb. 17 to give the City of Belvidere 90 days notice of intent to terminate a longstanding agreement for a shared planning department. That is set to take effect in mid-May.

That department in the final days consisted of interim planning director Kathy Miller and associate planner Gina DelRose. Miller has since retired; DelRose was hired by the City of Belvidere to be its first full-time planner. Her first day was March 24.

Fehr-Graham will serve the county until it hires its own planner.

Discussion at the county board’s April 20 meeting was brief.

Board member Kenny Freeman remembered when the shared department had the two full-time planners, who together worked 80 hours a week.

“Now we’re going to pay $1,230 a week for 10 hours,” he said. “I will be voting ‘no’ on this.”

Another board member, Cathy Ward, said she thought the county was in an emergency situation. While she didn’t think hiring a consultant was in the best interests of residents, she said the county needed to be providing that service for the public.

There were no other comments.

In a letter to County Administrator Ken Terrinoni, Fehr-Graham engineering division manager and Principal Michael W. Gronewold said Shelly Griswold would work with Boone County.

She is a certified planner with 11 years experience and joined Fehr-Graham two years ago. Prior to that, she worked as community development director for the City of Freeport for nine years.

Gronewold said Boone would “receive much more than one planner … It would get “the advantage of a team of 150 professionals in engineering, surveying, environmental services, and more, supporting that planner’s efforts on Boone County’s behalf.”

Fehr-Graham and two other candidates earlier provided Terrinoni with preliminary information about their companies and how they could temporarily help the county.

DeKalb County quoted a flat $70 an hour while Simo and Associates offered 20 hours of work each week at $40 an hour. Fehr-Graham did not include an hourly rate with its letter.

The search for a county planner is under way, with a job description having been developed.

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