A new water storage tower to replace an aging 50,000-gallon tower adjacent to the village hall may be in Wilsonville’s future as a result of action taken during Monday night’s regular monthly meeting of the Village Board of Trustees.
Board members voted unanimously to authorize Village President Jeff Rhodes to investigate the availability of grant money for such a project from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program. Rhodes said village engineer Rodney Potts also is researching possible grants from other sources.
“We have to do something with our water tower,” Rhodes said. “Instead of putting $100,000 into that old tower, what do you think about trying to get the money for a new one?”
While the board did not discuss the issue in detail, the meeting agenda indicated the Environmental Protection Agency has identified issues with the old tower that must be rectified.
Rhodes said the old tower is “probably” at least 50 years old. He said he would like to replace it with a 100,000-gallon capacity tower to better meet the village’s demand for water. White City, he noted, recently constructed a new 100,000-gallon tower for $375,000, largely underwritten by grant money.
POSSIBLE POLICE CONTRACT
In other action, the board discussed negotiations to contract with a neighboring municipality for police protection, hired a new maintenance worker, approved the 2019 motor fuel tax resolution, heard a report on progress made toward codifying the village code book and heard a brief report on the village’s annual audit.
Rhodes reported that he had met with Bunker Hill city and police officials about the possibility of contracting with Bunker Hill to provide police services in Wilsonville.
“We offered them $1,500 a month if they would patrol two times per week, and we told them we’d provide an ordinance officer,” Rhodes said, adding that Bunker Hill officials promised to give the village an answer by Dec. 12. “Bunker Hill is really our only option. If they turn us down or we can reach an agreement with them, we’re back to square one. The only other alternative would be to go to the county (Sheriff’s Department) but then we’d have no patrols.”
Wilsonville has struggled with police protection issues since earlier this year shortly after Rhodes, a former Macoupin County Sheriff’s deputy, was appointed to serve as Village President. The police chief and all but one of the village’s part-time police officers resigned in May. In June, the board appointed Kenneth Kallal, Carrollton, to serve as police chief but no additional officers have been hired.
Rhodes said contracting with Benld probably is not an option since the future of the Benld Police Department is in doubt. Mt. Clare recently terminated its contract with Benld and is now relying on the County Sheriff’s Department for police services.
Trustee Bob Carr suggested the possibility of co-oping with Mt. Clare and, possibly, Dorchester, to hire a police force to serve participating communities.
“That might be another possibility,” Rhodes agreed.
MAINTENANCE WORKER HIRE
On a motion by Carr, seconded by Dustin Calcari, the board voted unanimously to hire Richard Hearn, Wilsonville, as a maintenance worker on an “as needed” basis at a rate of $11 per hour.
Rhodes said the hire was necessary because the village’s full-time maintenance worker, Mike Campagna, remains sidelined as a result of injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident. In October, the board had hired Charles Ring as a “temporary” maintenance worker to fill in during Campagna’s absence. Hearn’s hiring presumably is a permanent hire, and Hearn presumably is expected to continue working when Campagna returns to the job.
“Mike is out of the hospital but it will be quite a while before he’s back in service,” Rhodes said. “I told him the job is his when he’s recovered, but he will need help this summer.”
While Campagna has been recovering, Rhodes said he and Trustee Keith Mohr have been trying to fill in to keep up with maintenance needs.
“We need somebody,” Rhodes said. “I’m swamped. I can’t keep doing it. We’ve got a lot of stuff to get done and I don’t have anybody to do it.” He said immediate needs include a tree that needs to be removed, a fence that needs to be cut off and multiple water services that need to be shut off for non-payment.
He said the village received four applications for the job. Rhodes met with committee members to review resumes and determined that Hearn was the most qualified.
“He had the most qualifications and he lives here in town,” Rhodes noted. “He has experience with heavy equipment and he can weld.”
MOTOR FUEL TAX RESOLUTION
Board members voted unanimously to approve a motor fuel tax resolution for the village’s 2019 street maintenance program in the amount of $17,500.
“That’s what we have to spend,” Rhodes reported. “What we get from the state is what we have to live with.”
He said new rules from the state Department of Transportation now require municipalities to approve their motor fuel tax programs by Jan.1 instead of July.
ORDINANCE BOOK UPDATE
Ann N. Clough of Cloug & Grummel Attorneys at Law, Jacksonville, reported on her progress toward codifying the village’s ordinance book. Clough was hired in September to complete the codification project within 90 days at a cost of $4,700, and update the codebook quarterly at a cost of $250 each quarter.
Before she began working on the project, the village had two code books that did not agree with one another in all details. Clough said she began by going through both books to bring the code into agreement. She then went through meeting minutes to incorporate ordinances that may have been adopted without being included in either book.
“It should all be up to date now,” she said.
Among the changes she made was standardizing potential fines for ordinance violations at $75 to $750. She also removed an ordinance restricting the ownership of “pit bull” dogs and replaced it with language referring to “dangerous animals.”
“There’s a state law that you can’t have that any more for a specific breed,” she said.
She also reduced the penalty for late payment of water bills to 1.5 percent per month to bring the late fee structure into compliance with state law.
She said she expects to deliver a finalized code book to the board by the end of this month.
Rhodes reported that Loy-Miller-Talley, P.C., Alton, had completed the village audit and delivered a final report.
According to Rhodes, the auditors made two minor recommendations regarding the village’s billing for water customers.
“Other than that, they said everything looked good,” he said. “They said it probably will go much easier next year because 1.) we have a budget, and 2.) our filing system is much better.”
Two minor findings were “not bad at all,” Trustee David Day commented.
The audit was completed at a cost of $4,400, compared to $6,000 the village paid for audit services last year.
“We saved nearly $2,000 with this company,” Rhodes said.