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Benld Council approves $120,000 property tax levy

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Jono Verticchio from the Verticchio Law Office said Tiburzi is not asking the city to remedy the compaction issue but is asking that the deadline be removed to allow more time to build and establish a business.

Benld City Council members on Monday night approved a $120,000 levy for 2023 property taxes to be collected in 2024 and approved the purchase of three derelict properties for back taxes, but tabled action on amending a contract to sell a vacant lot on Central Avenue, pending further discussions with the buyer.

Finance Chair Ald. Jerry Saracco said the new tax levy is less than three percent in excess of last year’s levy, except for the Public Library levy, which was increased by five percent. The levies for city funds are governed by the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL), or tax caps, which was approved by Macoupin voters more than two decades ago. PTELL restricts increases in the property tax levy to five percent or the Consumer Price Index, whichever is less. The Consumer Price Index, essentially the rate of inflation, typically falls short of five percent.

The newly approved levy will be submitted to the Macoupin County Clerk, who is responsible for ensuring the levied amounts are within the limitations of PTELL, making adjustments if necessary, and set the tax rate to generate the amounts requested by the city council.

The new levy unanimously approved on a motion by Saracco, totals $120,605.29 in the aggregate, compared with last year’s levy of $116,912.38. While some individual levies were increased, others were reduced or left unchanged, the total increase was less than three percent, according to Saracco.

Representing about one-third of the total levy, the levy for Police Protection comes in at 43,160, compared with $41,114 a year ago. A total of 30,000 is levied for Administration, compared with $30,300 last year. The levy for Liability Insurance totals $6,386, compared with $6,200 last year, while the levy for Road and Bridge Maintenance totals $6,090, compared with $5,800 last year. The city levied $5,800 for the annual audit, compared with $4.760 last year. A total of $5,250 is levied for Parks, compared with $5,000 last year, and $5,000 is levied for Social Security, compared with $6,600 last year. Other levied amounts include $1,200 for the Municipal Band, compared with a levy of $0 last year; $1,200 for Unemployment Insurance, which is unchanged from the previous two years; and $2,400 for Workers Compensation, compared with $2,300 last year. The levy for Lease/Rental expenses is $0, the same as last year.

Though the library is its own taxing body separate from the city, the library levy of $14110.29, is included in the city levy request, compared with $13,438.38 last year.

PROPERTY ACQUISITIONS

On a motion by Ald. John Balzraine, seconded by Saracco, the council voted unanimously to purchase three properties, previously designated as public nuisances, located across the street from City Hall.

The city will pay $846.12 for 200 East Central Avenue, $1,071.99 for 209 East Central Avenue, and $554.93 for 211 East Central Avenue.

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The action enables the city to acquire the properties without pursuing court actions. The properties presumably will be offered for sale, conditioned upon the buyer either abating or removing the nuisance.

TIBURZI CONTRACT

After some discussion, the council tabled action on a request to alter the contract regarding the sale of the lot formerly occupied by First National Bank in the 200 block of East Central Avenue to Derek Tiburzi. The two-story brick bank building was razed in March 2022 after the city acquired the problem through an emergency public nuisance resolution. Tiburzi submitted the winning bid of $30,000 to purchase the lot in April 2022.

Under terms of the agreement, Tiburzi was to pay $6,000 down with the remaining $24,000 to be paid in monthly installments of $1,000 over two years. The agreement further obligated Tiburzi to build a new building housing a business interest within three years.

Tiburzi reportedly asked the city to eliminate the deadline, citing alleged problems with soil compaction on the site of the Old Bank Building. Tiburzi said he has been unable to find a concrete contractor willing to guarantee his work on a foundation because of the condition of the soil.

Jono Verticchio from the Verticchio Law Office said Tiburzi is not asking the city to remedy the compaction issue but is asking that the deadline be removed to allow more time to build and establish a business.

“I don’t want to remove the time limit entirely,” said Ald. Saracco. “We need to have him come in and talk to us.”

Verticchio also updated the council on the status of several public nuisance cases moving through the court system with an eye toward cleaning up private properties. He also clarified for aldermen the circumstances under which the city can tow away derelict cars sitting on public boulevards. According to Verticchio, such vehicles can be removed if they have been sitting for a minimum of seven days. Once the owners have been notified that their vehicle has been impounded, they have 10 days to reclaim the vehicle. If the owner fails to claim the vehicle within 10 days, the city can sell the vehicle.

Ald. Balzraine apologized after learning he had issued an ordinance violation citation on the wrong property. Richard Mitchell appeared before the council to complain about receiving the citation and subsequently received a notice to appear in court. He said the ticket was issued Nov. 11, but he did not receive it until Dec. 5. The court date summons arrived Dec. 15 before he had a chance to respond to the citation.

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“Where just trying to get the town cleaned up,” Balzraine said. He mentioned a boat parked on city property and two derelict trailers, prompting Mitchell to deny any of those conditions existed on his property. Balzraine quickly apologized when he realized the citation had been meant for an address on South Kentucky Street, rather than South Illinois Street where Mitchell resides.

Verticchio took a copy of the citation from Mitchell and assured Mitchell that he would file a dismissal with the court.

STRAY CATS

Ald. Balzraine reported that Macoupin County Animal Control plans to start trapping and removing feral cats in the near future. He reminded residents that the city has a leash law for pets, including cats, and that cat owners should keep tabs on their pets to keep them from being inadvertently trapped and removed. He also asked that residents refrain from feeding stray cats.

PAID LEAVE FOR EMPLOYEES

The council unanimously approved an ordinance regarding paid time off for city employees to bring the city’s policy into compliance with a new state law taking effect Jan. 1. Under the new rule, employees requesting paid time off must file their request three days in advance for planned leaves, or as soon as possible for emergencies. Additionally, paid time off must be taken in two-hour increments.

TREE REMOVAL

The council accepted a bid of $1,900 from Emmons Tree Service, Carlinville, to remove four trees on city property on North Main Street. The bid also includes grinding the stumps.

CHRISTMAS BONUSES

Council members approved Christmas bonuses of $125 for full-time employees and $75 for part-time employees.

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Court News

Macoupin County Courthouse News

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Cases filed during July 7 through July 13. Visit the “Court News” category under the “Community News” tab for other editions.

FELONIES

Timothy D. Conlee, 29 of Gillespie, is charged with aggravated fleeing or attempting to elude a peace officer, driving on a suspended license, and reckless driving in connection with a July 6 incident.

Dylan J. Arview, 25 of Benld, is charged with driving under the influence while license revoked or suspending, DUI, driving on a suspended license and driving 15-20 mph above the limit in connection with a July 5 incident.

Bobby L. Walker, 35 of Sorento, is charged with driving revoked/suspended with a DUI, driving on revoked license, operating an uninsured motor vehicle, displayed registration plate, and expired registration in connection with a June 27 incident.

Dustin W. Gooch, 34 of Beecher City, is charged with aggravated fleeing/bodily injury, unlawful display of a title, improper use of registration/title, operating an uninsured motor vehicle, and registration light in connection with a June 17 incident.

MISDEMEANORS

Jordan A. Black, 24 of Gillespie, is charged with battery/causing bodily harm in connection with a July 8 incident.

Dustin R. Stieglitz, 37 of Shipman, is charged with aggravated assault/use of a deadly weapon in connection to a June 29 incident.

Steven A. Kroll, 33 of Eagarville, is charged with resisting a peace officer, fire fighter, or corrections employee in connection with a June 26 incident.

TRAFFIC

David B. Brown, 58 of Virden, is charged with cancelled/revoked/suspended registration in connection with a July 3 incident.

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Jennifer L. Roberts, 47 of Worden, is charged with driving on a suspended license and operating an uninsured motor vehicle in connection with July 5 incident.

Andrew L. Connoyer, 31 of Bethalto, is charged with improper use of registration, driving 15-20 mph above the limit, and no valid registration in connection with July 7 incident.

Megan E. Bertoldi, 37 of Gillespie, is charged with leaving the scene in connection with July 11 incident.

DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE FILED

  • Tasha McQuay versus David McQuay

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Community News

School board disciplines staff member; hires AD and Student Services Coordinator

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In a relatively brief meeting Monday night, the Community Unit School District 7 Board of Education approved a “resolution of remedial warning” against an unidentified district teacher, and hired a new Student Services Coordinator and Athletic Director.

The actions followed an 80-minute executive session during which board members presumably primarily discussed personnel issues. The regular monthly meeting of the board was moved up by one week to fill key positions, such as the Athletic Director and Student Services Coordinator, prior to the start of the school year next month. The district was taken by surprise when former Student Services Coordinator Stephanie Bray and Athletic Director Mike Bertagnolli both announced their retirements within days of each other.

Supt. Shane Owsley said the resolution of remedial warning is a disciplinary action representing “a second strike, so to speak.” Neither the teacher or the nature of the infraction was disclosed in open session.

In other action, the board, voted unanimously to hire Shelsie Timmermeier as the district’s Student Services Coordinator for the 2024-25 school year, stepping into the vacancy created by Bray’s retirement, pending confirmation of certification and a background check. In a separate action, the board also appointed Timmermeier as an assistant high school women’s volleyball coach.

Jeremy Smith was hired, also by a unanimous vote, as the district’s Athletic Director for the 2024-25 school year. In a related matter, Smith’s resignation as middle school head baseball coach was accepted. Additionally, the board posted the coaching position as vacant for the coming school year.

On a motion by Weye Schmidt, seconded by Dennis Tiburzi, the board hired Alex Jasper as a high school social science teacher for the coming school year. The board also voted unanimously to hire Tate Wargo as a first-year, non-tenured physical education instructor, pending confirmation of certification. Both positions were vacated as a result of the sudden resignation of Dalton Barnes in April as head football coach, physical education teacher and social science teacher. 

In related matters, the board also hired Wargo Monday night as an eighth grade boy’s basketball coach, and accepted Jasper’s resignation as a district paraprofessional and posted the position as vacant.

In other personnel action, the board:

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  • Hired Amanda Ewin as a one-on-one aide.
  • Hired Anthony Kravanya as a freshman men’s basketball coach.
  • Appointed Melissa Heigert as a volunteer assistant high school softball coach.

In other action, the board gave routine approval to a list of policies provided by the Illinois State Board of Education. 

Supt. Owsley also provided a brief update on the progress being made on safety projects expected to be completed before the start of the school year, including installation of a new intercom system, a card-reader entry system and shatter-proof protective film on exterior windows.

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Gillespie Library, United Community Bank to host Fraud and Scam Prevention seminar on July 22

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Gillespie Public Library (Photo by Gillespie Public Library)

Friends of the Gillespie Public Library and United Community Bank are hosting a joint “Fraud and Scam Prevention” seminar at on Monday, July 22 starting at 6 p.m. at the Gillespie Public Library.

The seminar will focus on today’s common scams and frauds, which includes imposter and check scams, money mule fraud and those that target seniors. Presenters will be Jenni Alepra of Gillespie UCB and Kennen Bertolis of Carlinville UCB.

The seminar is open to the public and is free of charge. For additional questions, call the Gillespie Public Library at 217-839-3614.

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