VOSJ Tables Several Issues, Sets Meeting For Next Week

By Benjamin Cox on July 3, 2019 at 9:11am

Little action was taken last night at the Village of South Jacksonville. Trustees Dick Samples and Paula Belobradjdic-Stewart had immediate objections to the village’s agenda before items could be voted on.

Stewart details the issues with the meeting. “Over the year of being a trustee, you kind of learn what you need to make an informed vote. We do discuss things in committee meetings but we’re not allowed to vote. When we come to these board meetings, these are our business meetings. Under action items, if there words ‘ordinance’ or ‘resolution’ appears, in my mind that means there needs to be documentation or some kind of hard copy that I can look at and double check to make sure that is exactly what we talked about in those committee meetings. Once we vote, we put our seal of approval on that item. Several of the items that were removed didn’t have that documentation tonight. So I can’t vote when I don’t have the paperwork.”  Trustee documents are prepared 48 hours in advance by the city clerk and distributed.

Items removed or tabled at the meeting were June payable bills from the Treasurer’s report, a TIF redevelopment agreement for the Sleep Inn, resolutions to purchase new vehicles for the water department and selling of older vehicles, approval of the Morton Avenue Billboard signage, and the tourism grant for the boat races. Stewart informed the board that Tom Winters had not submitted the proper paperwork for the $1500 request for the races and the grant needed to be tabled until that paperwork was submitted. Dick Samples then motioned that another follow-up board meeting be held the following week.

The board approved another meeting to finalize and vote on the tabled items for Tuesday, July 9th at 7PM. Village Treasurer Tiffanee Peters said that the annual audit would be going on at Village Hall and requested the location of next week’s meeting be moved to accommodate the audit’s usage of the village’s board room. Mayor Harry Jennings suggested moving the meeting to the Fire Department. The board approved the decision. Next week’s meeting will be held at the department’s meeting hall on 1810 Sequoia Drive.

The village approved appropriations for the upcoming fiscal year without issue. Treasurer Peters commended the board for trying to pass a balanced appropriation for the village. It was the first time in her recent memory that there was a good attempt at trying to balance revenue and expenditures. Despite the attempt, village appropriations were at a $1.2 million dollar short fall.

The village did manage to take some actions on personnel last night approving a 2.8% Cost of Living Wage increase for hourly employees, approving the hiring of Brad Rogers and Chris Dawdy as part-time police for the village, and modified the gaming ordinance to allow more gambling machines at truck stops – placing the village’s number in line with state statute. Large truck stops like Love’s can now hold up to 10 machines if they so choose.

Police Chief Tim Mann presented the board with information on traffic flow for the 4th of July celebration and also stated that a new security system at Godfrey Park had been installed for the safety of children.

Chief Mann details what the security system does at the park. “The board had grave concerns over the years and opted to put in a new security system.  In years past, the gates to Godfrey Park, which is a popular park for young children, were propped open allowing kids to run freely to run in and out of the gates. There is 8-10 feet before the roadway. The new security keeps those gates closed at all times. At 7AM, the gates are unlocked electronically. You can push the gates open and it automatically closes behind you. The gates are actually closed at all times, but are actually open from 7AM-7PM as far as the ability to open and close it.” Mann said that it took a few days for the public to catch on to the new system, but signage at the park helped to spread the word and the security has worked well.

Mann also said that new video monitoring software was being installed in squad cars and the village’s K9 unit recently participated in a Department of Corrections lockdown and search detail at the local prison. Mann also informed the village trustees that the police department would be participating in the Illinois Speed Awareness Day on July 24th. Village works department head John Greene gave detail of the extensive oil & chip program that would begin in the next few weeks. He said that he would publishing the locations to local media outlets soon to inform the public.

The board’s follow up meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 9th with the next committee of the whole meeting to be held on July 25th. It was announced that new trustee training will be held on July 16th with the mayor and the city attorney attending, as well.