Effingham County Board agreed in a split vote Monday to create a maintenance fund for the multiuse trail west of Effingham.
In a 5-3 vote, the board agreed to set aside $2,500 per year for trail maintenance. Chairman Jim Niemann said county officials had promised Trail Recreation Effingham County (TREC) board members that a maintenance fund would be established.
“We did agree to set this aside for them, but I would like to put a cap on it,” Niemann said.
Niemann said the $2,500 put in this year would increase the fund balance to $7,500.
The $2,500 would come out of the county’s Hotel-Motel Tax fund. Board member David Campbell questioned whether trail maintenance was an appropriate use for the fund.
“You take it out of hotel-motel, but is TREC really putting heads in beds?” Campbell asked.
Campbell added other projects might also need maintenance.
“If you do it for TREC, why not do it for the old courthouse?” he asked. “Why aren’t we setting anything aside for the Poor Farm Cemetery?”
The old county courthouse has been converted into a museum. Niemann pointed out that the county still shoulders utility costs for the old building.
Several county officials agreed the trail will need periodic maintenance.
“You never know what Mother Nature will do on the river bottom,” said County Engineer Greg Koester.
County Treasurer Steve Dasenbrock said the TREC project was “the best use of hotel-motel funds we’ve had since I’ve been here.”
Dasenbrock is in his fourth term as treasurer.
But Dasenbrock noted the board could set a cap anytime it wanted.
“The board would still have control over the money,” he said. “It’s up to you to say how much is enough.”
Niemann voted to establish the fund, along with board members Karen Luchtefeld, Doug McCain, Joe Thoele and Jeff Simpson. Campbell was joined by Mike DePoister and Lloyd Foster in standing against the proposal. Board member Rob Arnold was absent.