November 27, 2021

Covid cases, and vaccines, increase in county

Friday’s announcement by the Food and Drug Administration to open up COVID-19 boosters to everyone 18 and older coincided with Union County’s growing number of COVID-19 cases by the week.

During the Union County Board of Supervisors meeting Monday, county public health director Zach Woods said another 66 new cases was reported last week as the county hit the 14% seven-day positivity rate. As of Nov. 16, Woods said the state’s rate was 10.2%. In recent weeks, Union County has had more new cases than the prior week.

“We’ve got tools to help,” Woods said referring to vaccines, masks and social distancing. “Boosters are real important.”

Woods said those who received the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines can receive the booster six months after the last second dose of each. Those who had the Johnson&Johnson have to wait two months after the initial vaccine for the booster.

Woods said Union County’s vaccine rate is 56%. That has seen an increase partly because children younger than 18 are eligible for the vaccine. Woods said his department and the hospital’s clinics do have vaccines for children. He said families have responded to the youth vaccine offerings. He encourages a phone call to make an appointment.

“Boosters are real important,” he said. “We are learning to live with this,” he said about COVID-19.

In other county news....

The Union County Supervisors met Nov. 17 with Maggie Burger, senior vice president with Speer Financial, in a discussion to learn how the county can financially benefit from the wind turbines. Tax increment financing, known as TIF, is one option. No action was taken.

Union County has 34 wind turbines with a full valuation between $3.2 million to $5.5 million.

In a TIF, the taxing entity implementing the program receives the revenue from the levies set by all taxing entities with the exception of any levy for debt repayment and the schools’ PPELs and Instructional Support Levy. TIF revenue has to be used for economic development which improving county roads and bridges are included.

Burger said turbines start at a 0% and rise at 5% increments until reaching a 30% taxable valuation. The turbines in Union County were built in 2020 with a value at 0% on Jan. 1, 2021. Turbines can be in a TIF for 20 years. The first year of collection is the first year counted for the 20 years. In Union County’s case that is fiscal year 2024 which begins July 1, 2023.

If the county wants to use the tax increment financing, it must first establish an urban renewal area. That area includes the turbine itself, down right of ways connecting to secondary roads. Burger says to be able to TIF, both the project and wind turbine must be in the TIF district.

The second part of structuring a TIF is noting the projects with a capped cost amount.

Supervisor Chairman Ron Riley said Monday, Nov. 22, there was no severance package for Keith Wieland who was terminated last week. Wieland was under a contract when he began work in June.

information for portions of this story are courtesy of KSIB Radio