Special Meeting Set For ABATE Billboard Issue, Cannabis Tax Rate Passes in South Jacksonville

By Benjamin Cox on March 6, 2020 at 5:59am

The Village of South Jacksonville is having some issues with use of the village-owned billboard. During their monthly meeting last night, the village trustees voted to table the approval of use of the billboard by the local ABATE chapter until a special meeting can be called to clear up issues from last year. Trustee Paula Belobradjic-Stewart explains: “Last year, ABATE asked for a billboard from the village. It’s our south [billboard] out by Bartlett Grain. There were a lot of things that were muddied in communications between our village president and ABATE and the trustees. What I would like from Mr. Stambaugh is a clarification of what happened because it was never discussed publicly. I feel like it’s important that it is discussed publicly, because I don’t think proper procedures were followed last year. So, I’d like to give Mr. Stambaugh a platform to come talk to the board if he’d like. Then, we can move forward. I don’t like to move forward with new business when there is still old business left to resolve.”

Village President Harry Jennings offered to provide copies of emails between himself and Stambaugh, but Stewart and the trustees still proceeded to table the issue by consensus and asked for a special meeting to be set.

Stambaugh is no longer president of the Tri-County ABATE chapter, but still works as part of their public relations arm for the community. Stewart wants to give Stambaugh the opportunity to clear the air about the image not getting to the trustees for approval last year.

Chris Norton, the Tri-County ABATE President, was hoping to move on with the billboard and get it up this year in time for Motorcycle Awareness Month in April. The board currently has the ABATE approved graphics in hand. Norton told the village last night that he has his entire chapter to answer to and is at their bidding as the organization’s president. “The chapter has actually voted on this particular image to be put up on this billboard and that’s what I’m trying to get approved. Anything that’s going on with Bob Stambaugh or anybody else, that’s something between them and it has nothing to do with ABATE.”

The village has set a special meeting to meet with former ABATE president Bob Stambaugh on March 11th at 7PM before official action will be taken on approval of the billboard.

In other action items last night, the village approved a 3% municipal sales tax on adult use cannabis sales should a dispensary come to the village with a vote of 5-1. Tom Jordan was the lone no vote on the issue. The village wanted to approve the tax rate prior to the April 1st deadline for the Illinois Department of Revenue. By meeting the deadline, the village is assured they will be able to collect municipal sales taxes right away should a dispensary move to South Jacksonville.

The other major item of business was the village approved a 1 year contract with the Regional Planning Commission for $8000. The cost of the contract is to be split between $4000 deducted from TIF funds and $4000 from the general fund. The village also approved the sale of surplus vehicles from the local police department in a local sealed bidding process as well as surplus radios from the fire and police department. Brian Kitner was also hired as a new member of the village fire department. The village approved a tourism grant of $2500 to the September Lake Jacksonville boat races. The grant will be split between $1500 for the event, $600 for payment of LifeStar ambulance services for the first day of the event, and then donation of village EMS services for the final 2 days of the event’s weekend. The village also agreed to sweep money from the general fund to cover $150,000 of old and new debt from the road fund. The road fund does not generate revenue, according to Village office manager Tiffanee Peters, and the sweep is an annual process to clean up bookkeeping and keep the fund balanced for auditing purposes.