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TIF district consultant fields questions during public hearing

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Keith Moran listening to questions from residents attending the public hearing.

The Gillespie City Council took another significant step toward establishing a new Tax Increment Financing district, conducting a public hearing on the issue prior to Monday night’s regular council meeting. The hearing, a required step before formally establishing the district, was scheduled for 30 minutes but Keith Moran of Moran Economic Development, Edwardsville, fielded questions from nearly 30 residents and property owners from the proposed district for more than 45 minutes. Moran has been retained by the council to shepherd the city through the process of establishing a new TIF district.

The proposed new district—TIF District II—will encompass much of the city’s underdeveloped west side, including substantial tracts of platted lots that have never been developed. Because the district must be contiguous, the new district will use the old Illinois Terminal Railway right-of-way to reach Macoupin Street at Maple Street and join with the northwest boundary of TIF District I. At the south end of the proposed district, the boundaries snake through a residential neighborhood to take in Big Brick Park. Including the park within the district may enable the park to take advantage of TIF funds for improvements once the district starts to generate revenue.

While TIF District I focused on economic development, the proposed new district will emphasize housing and residential development. Moran said TIF District II is expected to benefit the city as well as the local school district by stimulating the development of new single-family housing units that will be attractive to first-time home buyers. A substantial number of the vacant lots in the proposed district are owned by the school district or city. New housing developments on those lots ultimately may reverse Gillespie’s trend toward population loss and boost student enrollment.

According to documents distributed Monday night, the city hopes to encourage construction of new homes that are energy efficient and utilize green energy sources. Moran said TIF funds may also be used to raze deteriorated structures and, at the discretion of the city, be used to fund grant programs for existing homeowners to improve their properties. Some TIF funds may be used for utility improvements or amenities such as improved sidewalks and improved streets.

City Treasurer Dan Fisher emphasized that TIF money that may be awarded to homeowners for property improvements will be in the form of grants, not loans. TIF legislation specifically prohibits government entities from making loans from TIF funds.

“There are no loans,” Fisher said. “There can be a grant.”

Moran briefly explained the concept of TIF districts and how they generate money for municipal improvements. Essentially TIF’s establish a baseline for individual properties in the amount of property tax a property owner currently pays. As property owners make improvements or assessments increase through quadrennial reassessments, the additional tax paid by the property owner is swept into the TIF Fund instead of being distributed to various taxing bodies. Moran emphasized that being in a TIF has no impact on the amount of tax a property owner pays. The owner of a home in the TIF District with an equalized assessed valuation of $10,000, for example, will pay exactly the same taxes as a homeowner outside the TIF District with an identical assessment. The difference is what happens with the taxes collected in excess of what the homeowner paid before the TIF was established.

Because of the nature of the TIF District, it’s in the best interest of the city and district to encourage property improvements by using TIF grants to encourage owners to improve their properties.

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“The game is really to get people to improve their property,” Moran said. Property values in the area targeted by the TIF have been stagnant or the rate of growth has lagged behind the rest of the city. “We’re focusing on this area for a good reason.”

The lifespan of TIF Districts in Illinois is 23 years. For that reason, taxing bodies other than the city, such as school districts, sometimes oppose the creation of a TIF District because it causes them to forego increases in property tax revenue they would otherwise receive. Community Unit School District Supt. Shane Owsley reported to the Board of Education last month that he had negotiated with city officials for the local school district to receive 20 percent of increases in tax revenue that would otherwise go into the TIF Fund.

TIF District I, which encompassed the downtown business district, is set to expire in about two years. Its focus has primarily been economic development. TIF funds, for example, have been used for facade improvement grants to improve the appearance of downtown businesses, and development of the Illinois Coal Mining Museum. Once TIF District I expires, there will be no more money accruing to the TIF Fund from taxes paid on properties within the district, nor will projects within the district be eligible for TIF funds, according to City Treasurer Dan Fisher.

Fisher said he does not expect to see surplus funds in the TIF Fund when District I expires. In the event there are unexpended funds, those monies would be distributed to eligible taxing bodies.

Answering questions from spectators, Moran said the creation of TIF District II will not give the city authority to raze derelict properties against the wishes of the property owner. Likewise, property owners in the district cannot be compelled to make improvements or repairs they cannot afford. Importantly, it does not cause property owners in the district to pay more or less in property taxes than those who reside outside the district.

“It has no impact on the amount a property owner pays in taxes,” he said.

Having conducted the public hearing, the city is now in a position to make an application to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, which has final say on whether or not to approve the new District.

In related action Monday night, the council approved resolutions to authorize payment of $20,908.13 to Moran Economic Development for work done in connection with planning TIF District II, $1,402 and $1,346 to Curry and Associates Engineers for work done in conjunction with the TIF District II, and $390 to an area newspaper for publishing legal notice of the public hearing. All four payments will come from TIF funds generated from TIF District I and may be reimbursed from TIF District II when the new district begins generating revenue.

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COUNCIL MEETING

During the regular council meeting, which convened about 20 minutes late because of the hearing, council members voted to give Mayor John Hicks power to act on purchasing a Bobcat skidsteer the city has leased for several months and directed City Attorney Dan O’Brien to draft an ordinance incorporating rules regarding sewage holding tanks on residential lots at Gillespie Lake.

On a motion by Ald. Landon Pettit, the council voted to give the Mayor power to act on purchasing the skidsteer based upon the recommendation of the committee. Pettit told the council the city leased the unit for the water infrastructure improvement project starting in July 2020 at a cost $1,300 per month. The lease, which is coming to an end, includes an option to apply the lease payments to the $70,310 purchase price and buy the unit for the $33,056 balance.

Pettit said maintenance workers use the machine routinely, Lake workers have found it to be more versatile than a tractor and loader currently located at the lake.

“Your options are to buy it, let it go back or extend the lease,” Pettit said. If the city extends the lease, however, the option to buy vanishes. “I think we’d be crazy not to buy it.”

Since July 2020, the cost of Bobcat skidsteers have gone up to $90,000, Pettit said. Additionally, with supply chain issues, it is nearly impossible to find one to buy.

‘You can’t find them,” he said. “That’s why they want this one back. They know they can turn around and sell it for $90,000.”

Ultimately, Mayor Hicks recommended referring the matter to committee. Pettit then made the motion, seconded by Ald. Rick Fulton, to give Hicks power to act on the committee’s recommendation. If the city buys the skidsteer, Pettit said it would be likely that he’d recommend selling the tractor currently in use at the lake.

Fisher asked the committee to consider future equipment needs when they consider whether or not to buy the Bobcat.

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“We have to be cognizant of the fact we can’t own every tool we need when we need it,” Fisher said.

HOLDING TANK ORDINANCE

Lake Chair Frank Barrett asked the City Attorney to draft an ordinance to codify rules regarding sewage holding tanks at the lake. The ordinance will be subject to council action at a later meeting.

City employee Gary Thornhill said the current rules reflect EPA rules from several years ago, but acknowledged the state agency may have changed rules since then. Currently, the rules require holding tanks to be made of concrete, be installed by a licensed plumber and be equipped with an alarm.

CITY-SPONSORED HOLIDAY OBSERVANCES

Hicks appointed Ald. Wendy Rolando and Ald. Dona Rauzi to spearhead planning for a city-sponsored Easter egg hunt on Saturday, April 16. Additionally, he appointed Ald. Bob Fritz to organize observances for Memorial Day, and appointed Pettit to organize Veterans Day observances in November. The since disbanded American Legion Post traditionally sponsored Memorial Day and Veterans Day observances in past years. All three events were suspended for the past two years because of the COVID pandemic.

Hicks also reported that the city had been approached by a person wanting to install a shipping container to be used as a residence.  Without asking for formal action from the council, Hicks said such a structure would not be allowed under the city’s current zoning requirements. According to the ordinance, he said, residential structures have to have a foundation, must have a peaked roofline and must “have the appearance of a house.”

Fielding a question about nuisance properties, O’Brien reiterated that obtaining a court order to raze a derelict property requires a civil suit invoking state statutes. Local nuisance ordinances are not adequate.

“The teeth are in the state nuisance law and the state demolition law,” O’Brien said. “If you want to do more than a fine, you have to file a state violation.”

LED DISPLAY SIGN

Hicks announced that an anonymous donor has offered to pay for an electronic LED sign to be installed in front of City Hall for city announcements to the public. The sign is expected to cost as much as $50,000. Hicks said the city would be responsible for wiring and landscaping around the sign.

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PEACE CORPS FELLOW

Fisher announced that he applied to Western Illinois University for another Peace Corps Fellow to serve the city for 11 months. The tenure of Ethan Fogg, a Peace Corps Fellow, ended last November. During his time with the city, Fogg assisted with grant applications, updating zoning maps and other duties aimed at economic development.

Council members also learned the city has been approved for a $1 million federal grant for its upcoming streetscape project, pending approval of the capital bill in Congress. If approved, the grant will bring funding for the project to a total of $3.5 million.

TRINITY BAPTIST CHURCH

After hearing a brief presentation from Dane Solari, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, the council agreed to add an item to next month’s agenda to waive the building permit fee for a building the church plans to build later this summer. Solari described the building as a facility “to serve and love our community.”

A volunteer building team currently is in Mississippi, he said, and is expected to be in Gillespie June 2-24 to erect the new building.

OTHER ACTION

In other action, the council:

  • Gave permission for Alicia DeWitt to use the sidewalk in front of her pet grooming business on Macoupin Street for a promotional party from 3 to 5 p.m., April 3.
  • Authorized the use of city streets for a Labor Day weekend 5K run/walk and to donate $200 to help sponsor the event.
  • Approved pay resolutions authorizing payment of $16,575 to Korte & Luitjohan Contractors, Inc., $9, 874.92 to R.P. Lumber and $925.34 to Schulte Supply.

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Progressive Club to celebrate 90th anniversary

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Benld Entreprise

The Wilsonville Progressive Club will celebrate and host a 90 year Anniversary Party on Saturday, May 11. The party will include a catered dinner, a live band, and fireworks.

Doors will open at 2 pm with a catered dinner being served at 4 pm.  The Shane Kessinger Experience (live band) will play at 5 pm, and a grand fireworks display will be held at dusk.

The Progressive Club was originally established in 1934 by the Progressive Miners and was located on the northwest side of Wilsonville’s main street. The Club moved to their new building in January of 1949 and today this is still the current location at 212 Wilson Street in Wilsonville.

Wilsonville was founded in 1917 when Superior Coal Co. Mine No. 4 was sunk and this was the most modern mine in the Superior field. At that time, the little settlement which grew up around the mine was called Wilson. One day a worker paused and asked, “What are we going to name this town?” President Wilson was in office, thus the town was then and there named Wilson until 1919 when it was incorporated and the name expanded to Wilsonville.

The Wilsonville Progressive Club is operated and maintained by an elected panel of trustees and loyal members.  The Club is open to the public and membership is always welcome.  The large outdoor covered pavilion and manicured grassy side lot offer an attractive and convenient venue for any event along with inside facilities. 

If you are interested in renting for any kind of event, call 217-835-3122 during open hours which are Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 4 pm to close, and Sunday doors open at 2 pm.  Every Sunday afternoon at 4 pm is the Queen of Hearts drawing and the Club is on Facebook as well.

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Gillespie Police Report: April 14-20, 2024

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SUNDAY, APRIL 14, 2024

An officer was dispatched to the 100 block of East Oak Street in reference to a dog bite.

An officer was dispatched to the 700 block of Abba Street to pick up a found item.

An officer was dispatched to the 100 block of East Maple Street in reference to a domestic dispute.

An officer was dispatched to the 400 block of West Chestnut Street in reference to a burglary.

An officer was out in the 200 block of North Macoupin Street in reference to a motorist assist.

An officer was dispatched to the 700 block of Schmidt Street in reference to a 911 call.

An officer was dispatched to the 300 block of South 1st Street in Benld in reference to a domestic dispute.

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An officer was dispatched to the 500 block of Broadway Street in reference to a medical call.

An officer was dispatched to the 400 block of South Illinois Street in Benld in reference to illegal burning.

An officer was dispatched to the 200 block of South 5th Street in Benld in reference to an animal complaint.

An officer was dispatched to the 500 block of Horizon Street in reference to a 911 call.

MONDAY, APRIL 15, 2024

An officer was dispatched to Gillespie Police Department to speak with a male in reference to a theft in the 100 block of South Main Street in Benld.

An officer was dispatched to the 500 block of West Osie Street in reference to a violation of an order of protection.

Nicholas O. Landolt, 36, of Gillespie was arrested on multiple warrants including one out of St. Clair County for possession for methamphetamine, a second one out of Montgomery County for failure to appear for driving while license was revoked, and a third out of Macoupin County for failure to appear for methamphetamine.

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An officer was dispatched to East Walnut Street in reference to a suspicious noise.

An officer was dispatched to the 700 block of Abba Street in reference to a juvenile issue.

An officer was dispatched to the 500 block of Broadway Street in reference to a medical alarm.

An officer spoke with a male at Gillespie Police Department in reference to a theft in the 200 block of West Oak Street.

An officer spoke with a female at Gillespie Police Department in reference to criminal damage to her property.

An officer spoke with a male at Gillespie Police Department in reference to identity theft.

An officer spoke with a female in the 100 block of North 7th Street in Benld in reference to a neighbor dispute.

An officer spoke with a female at Gillespie Police Department in reference to a violation of an order of protection.

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An officer was dispatched to the 200 block of Southern Street in reference to a suspicious person.

TUESDAY, APRIL 16, 2024

An officer was dispatched to the 1100 block of South Macoupin Street in reference to criminal damage to property.

An officer was dispatched to the 900 block of South Macoupin Street in reference to a domestic dispute.

An officer was dispatched to the 700 block of East Walnut Street in reference to criminal trespass to property.

An officer was dispatched to the 600 block of North 7th Street in Benld in reference to criminal trespass to property. Melissa J. Hughes, 49, of Benld was arrested on a Montgomery County warrant for theft/larceny.

An officer was dispatched to the 100 block of East Maple Street in reference to criminal trespass to property.

An officer was dispatched to the 300 block of Francis Street in reference to a traffic crash.

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An officer spoke with a female at Gillespie Police Department in reference to a civil issue in the 700 block of Rose Street in Benld.

An officer was dispatched to the 200 block of South 5th Street in Benld in reference to a domestic dispute.

An officer was dispatched to the 300 block of East Pine Street to assist the Department of Children and Family Services.

An officer was dispatched to the 400 block of Broadway Street in reference to reckless driving.

An officer was dispatched to the 300 block of East Central Avenue in Benld in reference to a 911 call.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 17, 2024

An officer spoke with a female at Gillespie Police Department in reference to fraud in the 200 block of South Macoupin.

An officer was dispatched to a business in the 500 block of East Elm Street in reference to criminal trespass to property.

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An officer was dispatched to Route 4 and Staunton Road in reference to reckless driving.

An officer was dispatched to the 600 block of Gillespie Street in reference to unwanted solicitors.

An officer was dispatched to High Street and Gillespie Street in reference to a suspicious noise.

An officer was dispatched to the 300 block of High Street in reference to unwanted solicitors.

An officer spoke with a male at Gillespie Police Department in reference to a civil standby.

An officer was flagged down at Elm Street and Clinton Street and spoke with an individual in reference to a civil issue.

An officer was dispatched to the 200 block of Mt. Olive Road in Eagarville in reference to a domestic dispute.

An officer spoke with a male at Gillespie Police Department in reference to a suspicious circumstance.

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THURSDAY, APRIL 18, 2024

An officer was dispatched to a business in the 400 block of South Macoupin Street in reference to a panic alarm sounding.

An officer was dispatched to the 1300 block of South Second Street in reference to a civil standby.

An officer was dispatched to the 400 block of West Osie Street in reference to a dog bite.  Heather L. Kimberlin, 47, of Gillespie was issued a citation for dog at large.

An officer was dispatched to the 400 block of West Baker Street in reference to a juvenile issue.

An officer was out with a suspicious vehicle in the alley in the 500 block of Park Avenue.

An officer was dispatched to East Walnut and South Main Street in Benld in reference to reckless driving.

An officer was dispatched to the Veterans Memorial Park in Benld in reference to a suspicious vehicle that had been parked there for a couple of days.

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Gillespie Police Department was requested for traffic control by the Gillespie Fire Department for a fire on Eagarville Road.

FRIDAY, APRIL 19, 2024

An officer was dispatched to the 700 block of East Walnut Street in reference to a traffic crash.

An officer was dispatched to the 300 block of South Street in Gillespie in reference to a juvenile issue.

An officer was dispatched to the 700 block of Litchfield Road in East Gillespie in reference to a suspicious person at the storage units. Kathy J. Henderson, 49, of Sawyerville was arrested on a Macoupin County warrant for failure to appear for bad checks

An officer initiated a traffic stop at Maple Street and Macoupin Street. Kenny L. Fults, 18, of Belleville was issued a citation for possession of cannabis.

An officer was dispatched to the 200 block of Mt. Olive Road in Eagarville in reference to civil standby.

An officer was dispatched to the 500 block of West Burton Street in reference to an animal complaint.

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SATURDAY, APRIL 20, 2024

An officer was dispatched to the 700 block of Abba Street in reference to a domestic dispute.

An officer was dispatched to the 400 block of North 7th Street in Benld in reference to criminal trespassing. Timothy J. Dalpozzo, 57, of Benld was arrested for criminal trespassing to residence and a Macoupin County warrant for criminal trespassing to a residence.

An officer initiated a traffic stop at South Street and Chestnut Street and charges are pending crime lab results.

An officer was dispatched to the 100 block of East Maple Street in reference to reckless driving.

An officer was dispatched to Macoupin Street and Elm Street in reference to reckless driving.

An officer was dispatched to the 400 block of Osie Street in reference to a dog at large.

An officer was dispatched to the 600 block of North 8th Street in Benld in reference to medical assist.

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An officer was dispatched to the 200 block of West Spruce Street in reference to a suspicious person.

An officer was dispatched to the 400 block of West Baker Street in reference to criminal trespass to property.

An officer was dispatched to the 300 block of Park Street in Benld in reference to a medical call.

An officer spoke with a male at Gillespie Police Department in reference to an ordinance issue.

All subjects are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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HSHS St. Francis Hospital offers volunteer opportunities for feens

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LITCHFIELD, Ill. — HSHS St. Francis Hospital is offering service opportunities to area teens this summer through the 2024 Junior Volunteer Program. Applications are being accepted now through May 1.

Applicants must be high school students maintaining at least a “C” average, be a minimum of 14 years of age by June 1 and be willing to volunteer at least two hours per week during the summer program. Junior volunteers will perform a variety of duties in various hospital departments. 

Registration materials are available on the hospital’s website volunteer page at https://www.hshs.org/st-francis/community/volunteer.

All participants in the program will be required to present proof of immunizations for MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella), and Varicella (chicken pox). An additional requirement includes attendance at a hospital orientation.

A limited number of positions will be available. For more information, contact HSHS St. Francis Hospital at 217-324-8200.

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