South Jacksonville Trustees Face Tough Decisions on Ambulance and Splash Pad at July Meeting

By Jeremy Coumbes on June 25, 2020 at 6:34pm

The South Jacksonville Board of Trustees will have some difficult decisions to make during their July meeting next Thursday.

Discussion of the ambulance service was tabled at the last trustee meeting after motions to both fully fund and partially fund the service failed, and a motion to defund the service failed to receive a second.

The continuing concerns by the board is the inability for the ambulance service to be self sufficient in funding, causing the village to annually make up the difference out of the general fund.

Trustee Paula Belobrajdic-Stewart said she still has difficulty justifying the use of general funds to support the ambulance when much of the time it is used for calls outside of the village, citing that a majority of the time, Lifestar Ambulance in Jacksonville responds to medical emergencies in the village.

South Jacksonville Fire Chief Richard Evans Jr. says he still believes the ambulance provides a valuable service and he hopes the board will give his department more time to come up with a plan to expand the services.

We are fortunate with the ambulance service, we bill for our services so some of that money can be recouped. The board had some concerns about it running outside of the village of South Jacksonville, which is understandable, but we do also have to follow mutual aid with other communities.

And, I’m just trying to work with them on getting them to approve a budget for this year to operate off of and give us this year to come up with a strategic plan to possibly have our own full time ambulance service out here and transport all our own patients out here to the hospital.”

Evans says it’s up to the board of trustees when they meet again next week.

Trustee Dick Samples said after further discussion, the committee is suggesting the option to partially fund the ambulance service with a budgeted amount of $12,000 with conditions, to be placed on the agenda for consideration by the board during the July trustee meeting.

The trustees also discussed the splash pad at Godfrey Park as the state readies to move into Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois Plan on Friday.

Public Facilities Manager John Green told the board he did not think it was a good idea to open the splash pad and restrooms in the park while the Jacksonville City Pool in Nichols Park was going to remain closed.

Now that Phase 4 will be in soon, well that allows up to 50 people to gather, but there’s no way to control 50 people to social distance, you know it’s just going to be too hard to maintain in a city park setting without staff. Plus the cleanup in between everybody leaving every time that would be required, it’s just impossible. But there again, that is going to be the board’s decision.”

Green also presented plans for the renovation of Dewey Park. He says he and village trustee Jason Hill worked on the proposal which has a few options to be considered by the board prior to voting.

Green also updated the board that as the state moves into Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois Plan, water service late fees and disconnections that have been waved during the governor’s executive orders, will restart in late July.

Green also says that the water billing cycle to catch the village up on monthly water billing is now complete, and residents of the village will receive a water bill in July for only the amount of water they used in the previous billing cycle.