By Adam Poulisse
Posted Aug. 5, 2016 at 12:01 AM
BELVIDERE — The Boone County Health and Human Services Committee tabled a recommendation by the county Health Department tonight to change the county food service code.
That change would require all organizations — including nonprofits — to pay annual food service fees.
The current code exempts nonprofits from the fee, but a number have been charged for years. As a result, the Health Department is refunding thousands of dollars incorrectly charged to those organizations.
"The county code has got to change because, right now, this is an absolute bottomless pit of freebies," Director of Environmental Health Bill Hatfield said after the meeting.
A change in the county code is expected at a future subcommittee meeting.
The proposal has prompted opposition from organizations and residents who say it would be unfair to force nonprofits to shell out money amid the state's budget impasse. The Health Department says the money lost by not charging nonprofits — $22,000 last year — is prohibitive.
Hatfield said he doesn't have a record of how many nonprofits were incorrectly charged. However, he said they must show proof when seeking a refund.
"You (have) to confirm and show documentation, and then it will go through the process," Hatfield said. "There doesn't have to be all of this anger that's going on."
Belvidere VFW Post 1461 recently was refunded $2,485 in fees that stretch back to 2008. The post offers regular breakfasts that require them to have a food permit.
Belvidere Moose Lodge is waiting to see if its application for a $2,500 refund is approved, Administrator Ed Fitch said.
"I understand (the Health Department) has bills, too," he said, "but they should look at trimming the budget somewhere else."
— Adam Poulisse: 815-987-1344; email@example.com; @adampoulisse
NEWS ALERT-Posted Thursday night on FB by Boone County Board member Cathy Ward.
"NOT-FOR-PROFIT FEES in Boone . No decision Thursday night. Long discussion. Health chair Jeff Carlisle started the meeting with very strict rules if the public wants to speak, 3 minutes only, board member Brad Stark kept time to make sure no one went over. Jeff wants more very clear definitions of not-for-[profit before a decision is made. Board member Sherry Gieseke asked VFW and Moose members if they paid a liquor license fee and how much. They (Greg Kelm and Ed Fitch) said they do, $2,500. I asked why that was relevant as liquor fees don't go to the health department. Mrs. Gieseke feels if they have enough money to buy a liquor license, they have enough to pay a fee to the health department for their food permit fees. Keep in mind, however, that the vast majority of not-for-profit groups do not have a liquor license, do how does that fit? She supported the fees a few months ago, too. I maintain that every dollar we take from the not-for-profit groups is money that would go to help the people of our county. We taxpayers pay for the health staff to do their jobs. Should be a simple no vote. So frustrating. Lot of our taxpayers left pretty unhappy."