Golf cart, trustee pay increase ordinances fail in South Jax

By Ryne Turke on September 28, 2016 at 7:14am

A pair of hotly debated items in South Jacksonville were up for vote Tuesday night, but neither passed.

The topic of allowing golf carts and recreational off-highway vehicles on village streets has been on and off the table for the better part of 2016. Back in July, trustees voted on the ordinance, but it failed to pass due to a 3-3 tie.

Coincidentally, the golf cart ordinance tied again on Tuesday, with all the trustees casting the same vote they made in July.

In favor of the ordinance were John Gotschall, Mike Elliot and Steve Waltrip. Voting against the ordinance were Paula Belobrajdic-Stewart, Stacy Pinkerton and Kem Wilson.

Pinkerton voted against the ordinance because of safety concerns.

“People say that we have motorcycles and other motorized vehicles, so what makes a difference with golf carts? Why are we adding another dangerous vehicle to the road? Our police officers said they will take care of this if it is voted in and will go by the law. I still state that our police have enough to do, the last thing they need is something else,” says Pinkerton.

At the beginning of the meeting village resident Mike Looker presented 80 signatures in favor of the ordinance. Pinkerton talked to some of the people on the list and says a few “didn’t realize what they were signing” and “some even signed twice.”

Wilson was concerned that some of the signatures came from people outside of the village. Wilson preferred the golf cart ordinance poll put on, which she says surveyed only to South Jacksonville residents and kept people from voting more than once. Wilson says that survey was “overwhelmingly against golf carts.”

Elliot feels it was “foolish” for trustees to let the golf cart ordinance fail again.

“I think it is a very good ordinance. We mirrored the Jacksonville ordinance and put a lot of time and money on this. We spent a lot of money on legal fees and the committee did due diligence to make it the same so we could reciprocate with the city. Maybe people will be more informed and might change their mind… I don’t know. It is highly possible it could be taken to a referendum for the residents to vote on,” says Elliot.

A month ago, WLDS-WEAI News reported a raise could be in the works for South Jacksonville trustees.

According to Wilson, who got the ball rolling on this topic, trustees make $100 a month, which she says is one of the lowest pay for trustees in central Illinois.

Trustees had an opportunity to bump their pay by $100 during a vote on Tuesday. Much like the golf cart ordinance, the vote ended in a 3-3 tie and did not pass.

Voting in favor of the pay increase were Belobrajdic-Stewart, Pinkerton and Wilson. Voting against the ordinance were Gotschall, Elliot and Waltrip.

Wilson was frustrated the ordinance didn’t pass.

“A $100 a month is just not right. The clerk just had a $100 raise in 2009 and had another $50 raise in 2013. She went from $350 and then in 2013 it went to $500. The village president makes $1,000 a month or $12,000 a year. The trustees make $100 a month,” says Wilson.

Wilson says trustees haven’t received a pay increase in at least 15 years.

Elliot feels the duties of trustees haven’t changed since he took office 20 years ago.

“I haven’t been told any good hard facts from the people proposing the increase for why we are doing it. We’ve had some rough patches the last couple of years, but we are elected officials. Our plans commission doesn’t get paid at all. I think we are compensated duly the way we are,” says Elliot.

If approved, the ordinance would have gone into place after the 2017 election.

In other action, trustees unanimously approved pay increases for the Superintendent of Public Works John Green and Police Chief Josh Hallock.

The 2015-2016 financial statement budget, which includes over a year of cash in reserves, was also approved. We will have more details on the budget in a future broadcast.