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County board discusses attorney fees, agreements for Walker's Bluff casino project
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County board discusses attorney fees, agreements for Walker's Bluff casino project

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MARION — Williamson County Board Commissioner Brent Gentry on Tuesday questioned what the county is paying a law firm to represent the local government in the Walker's Bluff Resort project.

Earlier this year, the board hired Taft, Stettinius and Hollister LLP, to represent them in the Walker’s Bluff Resort project because board members felt they needed an attorney who specialized in gaming.

Gentry previously voted against hiring the casino attorney and questioned the need to spend $19,796 for the firm to do work already complete.

The county has an intergovernmental agreement in place, and a host community agreement (HCA) with the casino developer. 

“It’s already been done. Why are we doing it again?” Gentry asked Tuesday during the regular meeting of the Williamson County Board.  

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“The original HCA is an atypical agreement,” said Commissioner Tim Atkisson, who serves on the county’s committee on the Walker’s Bluff Casino Resort.

Atkisson said the agreement is atypical in that it does not specify the infrastructure the county is providing, which are roads only.

The agreement also does not specify a cap of the dollar amount the county will provide. In a typical HCA, the gaming entity pays the attorney.

“The agreement is already in place. What we are trying to do is negotiate a few things out of the agreement,” Atkisson said.

Taft charges a blended rate of $300 per attorney per hour when two or more attorneys work on the same issue — and individual attorneys can cost as much as $825 per hour, 

The county also had a bill from Hudgens and Meyer to work on the HCA. The accounting firm charges $150 per hour. Hudgens and Meyer charged the county $15,900 for assistance with the pending development and road project.

“We’re keeping meetings with them down to a minimum,” Atkisson said.

On Tuesday, the board also discussed the county’s 2019 audit. Kim Meyer, of Hudgens and Meyer, is working with Dean Snider of Snider-McCree to get the audit of the public building commission into compliance. Once that is done, the entire county audit will have to be submitted to the Illinois Comptroller’s Office.

The county can force a new audit of the public building commission if necessary.

In other business, the board approved a raffle and poker run license application for Pyramid Acres Marina, a special event liquor license for Marion Elks Club for a June 13 event, and a fireworks permit for Marion Elks for their July 4 fireworks display.

They granted sewer credits for filling swimming pools to JRJ Rentals and Jason Jones.

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