BLOOMINGTON — The McLean County Sheriff’s Department soon will be conducting inspections for 141 liquor license holders as part of a pilot program intended to cut a backlog for such checks at the Illinois Liquor Control Commission.

The McLean County Sheriff's Department, which is one of 64 participating agencies in the state's LC-13 Project, will be paid $75 for each completed inspection by the commission, which also pays for training local inspectors. 

The state liquor commission is behind on inspections because it does not have enough qualified staffers to inspect every licensee each year, local officials have been told.

“The Liquor Inspection Pilot Program is a state (and) municipal partnership with McLean County that aims to better allocate alcohol beverage compliance resources, which the ILCC believes will lead to better annual inspection coverage while utilizing existing state resources,” Horstman said.

Six McLean County sheriff's deputies completed eight hours of classroom training under the agreement, and inspections will begin soon, said Sheriff Jon Sandage.

They will cover all liquor licenses in the county outside of the city of Bloomington, which will conduct its own inspections. 

“We will get all 141 places inspected at least once,” he said.

Bloomington officials did not return calls seeking comment on the city's role, if any, in the program.

The agreement, which is funded by existing liquor commission resources, will expire June 30, 2018, Savage said.

“At that time, we will see how the program has worked here and in other places,” he said. “We will decide what to do at that point.”

The McLean County Board approved the proposal in July.

Sandage said the inspections, which would take 20 to 30 minutes each, could be handled with current staff during current hours with no overtime.

“We have talked with other counties, and so far it has worked pretty well,” he said.

Inspections include health and sanitation issues, verification of liquor licenses  and insurance coverage and compliance with state laws and local ordinances. Investigators are required to report their findings to the state commission, which may result in further action.

Other Central Illinois sheriff's departments that are participating include Ford, Livingston, Logan, Macon, Piatt, Tazewell and Woodford counties.

Follow Kevin Barlow on Twitter: @pg_barlow

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Staff Writer

Staff Writer for The Pantagraph.

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