Snow Removal & Discretionary Spending Caps Also Cause Strife At VOSJ Committee Meeting

By Benjamin Cox on November 20, 2019 at 9:35am

The Village of South Jacksonville was not short on other heated discussions last night.

Snow removal and discretionary spending caps for department heads riled ill sentiment last night between trustees, audience members, and village department heads in attendance last night.

Village Street Department Head John Green wanted to receive a general consensus from the board last night on what they would like the street department’s protocol to be during snow emergencies. Trustee Paula Belobradjic-Stewart wanted clarification of the village’s snow removal policies because of recent comments made by District 117 Superintendent Steve Ptacek about the procedures during the most recent snow storm that occurred last week. On November 12th, Ptacek was quoted in a message to parents as saying “There are sections of Vandalia that should be closed.” Green asked for what specific portions of Vandalia were impassable during the emergency because he received no notifications from Village Police about the problems on the road. Green said he even took pictures to show that Vandalia was able to be driven on during the snow emergency. Green implored the board of trustees to give him a consensus on the direction that the street department should go in should another emergency should happen in the future. Currently, all major through-streets are plowed and salted and all intersections in the village are salted during snow emergencies. He said to do those tasks, it takes his team of 4 employees 5 hours on the minimum side, depending upon the snow coverage and temperature. He also urged the trustees to back him up when it came to residents’ complaints in the near future. He said to plow and salt all the roads in the village, it would more than double the cost in the budget from the motor fuel tax fund to ensure all roads were salted during a snow emergency. The board eventually came to a consensus that Green should continue in his current procedures during snow emergencies.

Later on in the meeting, Trustee Tom Jordan suggested discretionary spending caps for purchases from department heads. Jordan cited a recent purchase of over $400 in uniform shirts for the village fire department by fire chief Richard Evans, Jr. as an impetus for the necessary caps. John Green said that having a cap at $400-$500 wouldn’t be practical for the streets and sewers department because he makes purchases nearly double that all the time. Evans took exception to the shirt issue, saying he was wanting to have his firefighters be uniform during calls. The board all contended that everyone has done a poor job at communication on some spending items and that major spending projects should at least be communicated at a meeting or in writing at some point.

Despite the friction, the board came to a consensus on rezoning of Kem Wilson’s personal property to a B1 Special Use to move her salon. Wilson says that personal conflicts had caused her to move her business from Jacksonville to her home. Wilson said the 1 seat salon will allow her to attend to her personal issues and allow her to continue working as a stylist.

Action items for Wilson’s salon as well as all other village business will occur at the December board meeting on Thursday, December 5th.