Schram City Reinstates Neighboorhood Watch Program This Summer

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Upon arrival of last month’s minutes, members of the Schram City Village Board were presented the village’s audit by Kyle Putnam of Patton and Company, PC during their board meeting Monday evening, July 12, at the village hall.

“It’s still just hard to predict what we’re going to see over the next year or so,” said Putnam, who referenced the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and shut down. 

With unemployment still high, she expressed concerns over utility bills. Water Clerk Marcia Eller advised that they haven’t faced many issues regarding unpaid bills.

“While aid has come to some local governments, it comes at a price,” Putnam said.

The board learned that there is a limit on government funding they can receive before they’re required to do a single audit, which is $750,000. Putnam advised that a single audit would be more costly, and there aren’t many auditors who are equipped to do that kind of audit.

The village was awarded an IEPA loan that exceeds that amount, and Putnam advised that any CARES funding will also count toward that limit. She is working with Village President Albert Oberle and the IEPA to determine if any of those funds are federal money.

According to Putnam, the state has requested a different kind of audit for next year, which will be a little more costly because it is more extensive; however, she is trying to convince them otherwise. While many smaller governments are receiving funding, it is pushing them into the single audit threshold and they do not have the resources for a single audit. She hopes the CARES funding isn’t counted as federal money or it is split between federal and state.

President Oberle questioned whether the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds will count toward the federal money alotment as the county was awarded $5.4 million  that they will distribute to local municipalities. Putnam said she believes it is federal money; however, it is uncertain at this time.

“No one knows right now what the rule is,” said Putnam.

As part of the fuel tax inacted a few years ago, the village has received about $19,000 in Rebuild Illinois funding. An extra revenue bonus for the village was gaming, but as a result of the shut down, they have seen an expected decrease. The village also received $479 in cannabis tax for the year.

Putnam commended the village for their efforts in obtaining money for instrastructure and other projects.

Following Putnam’s remarks, the board approved the annual appropriation budget ordinance. The total of this year’s budget is $1,530,000.

As part of the IEPA loan granted to the village in the amount of $793,693.46 for Phase I the water replacement project, the village is amending it’s water and sewer ordinance. After reviewing the village’s water and sewer rate structure, the IEPA said the village does not have enough funds set up to repay the loan. 

As a result, the ordinance will allow the village to take $5 off of the minimum sewer bill and tack that $5 onto the minimum water bill. President Oberle said residents will not be affected by this change.

“It’s an even swap,” said Oberle. “The IEPA will see that we have more money under our water and it will help us with our loan.”

According to President Oberle, he recently signed a loan agreement for Phase I and work will begin this year to be completed by 2022, followed by Phase II in 2022-2023, and Phase III in 2023-2024. He hopes to have approval for Phase II in 60 days and also recently filed an application for Phase III.

A resolution to extend the current water agreement (20 years) with the city of Hillsboro was approved. Oberle said the IEPA requested the village to extend the agreement to 35 more years to take care of the three-phase water replacement project loan. In November, the village will negotiate water and sewer rates.

President Oberle asked the village if they wanted to reach out to EJ Water Cooperative of Dieterich to inquire about rates. Trustee Kevin Stewart said he has property in Witt and has been satisfied with their services. The board agreed to hear a presentation from the water outfit prior to negotiations with the city of Hillsboro.

While ongoing trash service issues have been resolved since last month’s meeting, Oberle offered the board information on different service options to be discussed during next month’s meeting.

In a county animal control update, Oberle said the village is prepared to repeal all dog and cat ordinances at next month’s meeting. 

As part of a discussion regarding dumpsters, the board questioned whether they should create an ordinance or speak to business owners and residents about keeping theirs closed. Oberle asked if the board wanted to include  it as part of their zoning ordinance with Trustee Earl Eller suggesting speaking to business owners and residents first. 

Trustee Kevin Stewart advised clearing the alley just west of Rt. 16 as it is covered in brush. President Oberle said village workers have began working on overgrown alleyways–a matter the city of Hillsboro requested after spraying for mosquitoes. Trustee Dalton King asked if the village sprays brush killer annually, and if not it may be something to look into. Oberle said they do not as it requires a licensed sprayer, but will ask Hillsboro if they have an individual who has licensure.

Stewart also said that lawns on Klarr Avenue are holding water. The village president said village workers are hopeful they will catch up on mowing so they can begin asphalt work, which may take place mid to end of August.

In the public comment portion of the meeting, resident Mary Martin was on hand to ask which trustee covered her neighborhood, which is Eller, who told her if she had any concerns to bring it to his attention. She asked about a vacant structure near the driver’s services facility. Oberle said a tax company from Decatur purchased the property and took the county to court due to a tax lien against it, and he learned Tuesday that another tax company has since purchased the taxes on it. She also noted a few more residences that need attention. 

Due to no interest in spearheading this year’s Schram City Fall Festival, the board decided to forgo the event. They hope to plan another event in the future for residents to enjoy.

Trustee Pat Rhoades inquired about building a basketball court on Broadway for  local children. The village will look into the project. 

In a few final notes, the village is planning to reinstate the Neighborhood Watch Program and is seeking residents who may be interested in participating. Trustee Rhoades suggested more lighting around homes to help deter some offenses and to help residents keep a careful eye on their surroundings.

Members of the board received the 2020 vision plan, which is now extended to  April 2022 to May 2025. As part of the plan, it lists what the village has accomplished and goals in going forward.

The next meeting will be held Monday, Aug. 9, at 6 p.m. 

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