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Medical marijuana plots stir interest in Illinois counties

County governmental bodies in Illinois are hearing from companies interested in developing a medical marijuana farm. Several counties, including Iroquois, Kankakee, and Champaign, have been in talks.

The facilities would be strictly-governed, policed and hopefully provide educational value to researchers.

Tuesday, the Kankakee County Board approved a zoning ordinance to allow medical marijuana production facilities here. The 17-7 vote drew objection from several board members who disapprove of the new state law allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

The Daily-Journal reports the ordinance will restrict such a facility to industrial districts. Kankakee County's Planning Director Mike Van Mill said "it intentionally left out agricultural districts due to security concerns." He said industrial zones are closest to emergency services such as police.

Kankakee County's proximity to large markets in Chicago and a location in an Illinois State Police district south of Interstate 80 makes the county an attractive option, according to Van Mill. State law allows one production facility in each of the state's 22 state police districts.

Police surveillance becomes a key issue. Each facility could create 20 and 50 full-time jobs and generate revenue for local government.

While Kankakee offers an industrial outlook, Iroquois County officials eye the medical marijuana opportunity as an agriculture-venture.

A medical marijuana production facility would employ growers, pickers and security personnel and could represent a half-million dollar investment.

94.1 WGFA

  • Parent Category: News

Mayor Epstein: Kankakee needs legislative help for pension crisis

The City of Kankakee is still trying to solve the unfunded pension liability, which Mayor Nina Epstein says is an issue for the state legislature. The mayor says Kankakee is not alone in this issue.

Epstein said lawmakers need to be made aware this is a problem throughout the state. She says the question is: 'how do we modify promises made to those people in the pension system and remain responsible to local taxpayers who pay for the pensions?'

The mayor said local government has no control of what benefits are offered.

Kankakee is more than $36 million behind in the police pension and about $33 million behind in its fire pension fund.

94.1 WGFA

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Kankakee City, County eye a sales tax rate hike

A sales tax rate increase may be the answer for dwindling funds in Kankakee County. There's now talk of a sales tax rate hike for both the county and the city of Kankakee.

At Tuesday's County Board meeting, finance leaders for both bodies agreed they have sales tax revenue concerns. The revenue is dropping. And any light at the end of the tunnel doesn't look too good.

94.1 WGFA

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Paxton plans to study chicken ordinance

The Paxton City Council wants more information before deciding whether to discuss allowing poultry within city limits.

There was little comment at a recent meeting. No action was taken after a resident told the aldermen he was asked by several residents to seek permission to raise hens. One alderman said he wants to hear from residents who personally want the new ordinance. Other aldermen made no comment.

The city attorney provided the council with a proposed ordinance for consideration.

94.1 WGFA

  • Parent Category: News

Budget talks stir comments from Kankakee County Sheriff Bukowski

Kankakee County Sheriff Tim Bukowski is encouraging his local officials to "put it on the table" and let employees know what's going on.

At a meeting Monday with finance committee leaders, Bukowski said it's unfair to the employees to keep them in limbo. The sheriff said employees need to be told one way or the other what the County Board intends to do in dealing with the budget.

The local FOP (Fraternal Order of Police) has taken issue with recent reports about cutting up to 20 or more deputies to deal with the budget crisis. County Board Chairman Mike Bossert has likewise taken issue with the union about its stand, which Bossert says borders on the fine-line of hampering union negotiations.

The County Board finance committee has given Sheriff Bukowski the OK t6 work on agreements to house additional inmates at the downtown jail to shore up the bottom line.

94.1 WGFA