Two Cents Worth – The cavalry has arrived!

Two Cents Column

I feel like I’ve been given a new lease on life.

About three weeks ago we brought on a guy to help me with page layout. He had previously worked for a paper in southern Illinois that had been bought by a conglomerate out of Chicago. They ended up laying him off because they consolidated his job to one person up north. Their loss has been my gain though.

For the past few weeks we have been working to get him our content in a  timely and organized fashion. There have been a few bumps in the road, but I think (and I hope he agrees) things have gone pretty well.

To read the full article, pick up a copy of this week’s paper on newsstands now. Or, click here for the digital edition.

House overrides Governor, tax increase approved

The Illinois House voted to override the Governor’s veto on Thursday afternoon. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Nick Miller)

SPRINGFIELD – The House voted to override the Governor’s veto of the proposed budget legislation during session this afternoon.

The motion to override the veto of Senate Bill 9, which includes a $5 billion tax increase, was approved with the exact number of votes needed, 71-42. Local State Representatives Charlie Meier (R-108th) and Katie Stewart (D-112th) voted to oppose the override, while Rep. LaToya Greenwood (D-114th) voted to support the override. Rep. Meier flipped his vote, as he was one of the 15 republicans who voted in favor of passage back on Sunday.

The motion of override the veto of Senate Bill 6, which is the spending portion of the budget, passed by a vote of 74-37. Again, Meier and Stewart voted against overriding the veto while Greenwood voted in favor of doing so.

The budget will be implemented immediately, which includes the income tax increase. Under this plan the state income tax will increase to 4.95 percent. For a family of four making $100,000, this increase will amount to another $1,095 in taxes.

The House began session later than planned after a woman threw an unidentified white powder into the Governor’s office. This prompted a full shutdown of the Capitol Building as hazmat crews were called in to assess whether the powder was dangerous or not. After nearly two hours the Capitol was reopened after it was determined to be safe.

 

City Council approves contracts for Presidential Streets project

Bacon Fest approved for second year

City Hall

O’FALLON – The City Council approved a number of resolutions authorizing agreements with vendors to continue the construction work on the city’s Presidential Streets to perform stormwater remediation.

The Presidential Streets project has been an ongoing concern due to years of naturally occurring sediment and residents filling in ditches, leading to a history of drainage issues. The project has been phased out, and the resolutions passed by the Council on Monday dealt with the second and third phases.

The second phase consists of installing storm sewer pipe and inlets to allow the flow of stormwater, regrading a ditch along both sides of the existing roadways, and reconstruction of the roadway with a concrete ribbon curb and new asphalt surface.  In addition, the sanitary sewer main within the limits of the project will be replaced.

To read the full article, pick up a copy of this week’s paper on newsstands now. Or, click here for the digital edition.

Two Cents Worth – The hits just keep on coming – It’s time to say enough is enough on taxes

Evidently the Illinois General Assembly believes that the financial quagmire they find themselves in can only be solved by raising your taxes. On Sunday, the House voted to approve a permanent 32 percent income tax increase, taking the tax rate from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent. The Senate followed suit, ironically, on July 4.

Additionally, they increased the business rate from 5.25 percent to 7 percent.

Under this plan, if you are a family of four, with a combined household income of $100,000, you would now pay an additional $1,095 in income taxes. If you are a small business owner, you also have the business tax increase to contend with.

Some folks might say that’s not that big of an increase when you take into account how bad the state’s situation is and that they can live with it. However, I would counter saying it wouldn’t be that bad, if that was all that was asked of me. But it’s not.

The state not only takes high income taxes and business taxes, both of which apply to me as the owner of a small business, but also charge high fees on a variety of services. When was the last time you went to go to the DMV for something? Do you remember when you didn’t need to take out a personal loan to get a new plate sticker or license renewal? Obviously I’m being snarky, but prices have skyrocketed over the years to take pay for the General Assembly’s financial mismanagement.

But its not just the state robbing from your wallet. It’s even your local governments.

Back in April the St. Clair County Board voted to approve a property tax increase that results in a $40 annual increase on a $100,000 home. Only Dave Tiedemann and I voted against that proposal. The county blamed the state saying it had to take more because the state wasn’t paying what it owed to us.

Cities and school districts have, for the most part, all levied higher property taxes, in many cases due in large part to the state not getting them the money they are supposed to receive.

Additionally, both the county and the school districts in St. Clair County recently asked you all for additional sales tax revenue. The county wanted it for public safety and the schools as a way to shift construction related debt and costs onto a different area of their financial plate. You all voted both of them down by fairly overwhelming majorities in the April election.

Let’s not forget though that the county had previously asked you in 2014 to consider a sales tax increase to help pay for improvements to the jail. That tax also went down in flames by a margin of three to one.

You have spoken loud and clear that you are overtaxed and overburdened, yet the lawmakers continue to take more and more. You are asked time and again to open your wallets and do a little more because the situation is dire. There’s a murderers row of politicians telling you how the tax increase proposal was the lesser of two evils, the other being the state reduced to junk bond status.

And they may be right. But where is the sacrifice on their end? We are constantly being asked to give and sacrifice. We haven’t done anything wrong to deserve this. Our only crime has been electing these people time and again, and for that, shame on us.

As of press time for the Weekly, Governor Bruce Rauner had vetoed the budget package, which included the tax increase. The Senate did vote to override his veto but the House had not yet, There were some wondering if there were enough votes to do so in the House. But even if the tax increase goes nowhere, we need to remember. We need to remember who voted to kick us when we were already down for the count and voted to raise our taxes again.

I have a few men that I consider friends that voted yes for that tax increase on Sunday. I’d be happy to go have a beer with them and talk life. But I’m also not afraid to tell them both they deserve primary opposition for selling us out and that I’m very disappointed in them.

UPDATED: O’Fallon couple killed in motorcycle accident

A make-shift memorial developed Monday outside of Mandy’s East State Bar. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Nick Miller)

UPDATE: It was reported by Bradley Titze’s family on Facebook on Tuesday afternoon that he had passed away. The family reported that there will be a Memorial Ceremony for Bradley and Amanda “to celebrate these two amazing people and all the amazing ways they touched us.”

The Memorial Ceremony is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Sunday, July 2, at the O’Fallon American Legion.

ORIGINAL STORY AS PRINTED:

O’FALLON – The longtime proprietor of Mandy’s East State Bar, Amanda Titze, passed away in a motorcycle accident Sunday evening in Minnesota. Her husband, Bradley Titze, is reported to have been critically injured.

The accident took place near Winona, Minnesota, according to a report filed by the Minnesota State Police. The two O’Fallon residents were riding a Harley Davidson motorcycle northbound on Highway 61. A deer crossed into the road from the north and was struck by the motorcycle, causing it to cross over the center curb where it was struck by a south bound Ford Edge SUV.

According to the report Bradley Titze sustained life threatening injuries while Amanda Titze was pronounced dead at the scene.

Amanda ran Mandy’s East State Bar for a number of years and only recently turned it over to Amanda Schmitt in 2015. Titze was described as a very well known and well liked woman.

District 90 reports their financial issues directly related to state fiscal mismanagement

The District 90 Board of Education took time during their June meeting to honor the Carriel and Fulton Junior High School
students who medaled at their recent track meets. Pictured is Board President John Wagnon with the track stars. (Submitted Photo)

O’FALLON – The impact of the state’s fiscal problems was on full display at the June meeting of the District 90 Board of Education, where they heard reports about their financial status and had to shift money around to make ends meet.

District Finance Director Patty Cavins reported that the school district has not received any new state categorical payments since the last Board of Education meeting. The state has only paid one of the scheduled payments for the current fiscal year and still owes the district three more payments. The lack of payments has caused some major concern among administrators.

To read the full article, pick up a copy of this week’s paper on newsstands now. Or, click here for the digital edition.

District 203 forced into $3.65 million budget hole due to missing state payments

Board Member Brandt House discusses District 203’s involvement in a school consolidation feasibility study. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Nick Miller)

O’FALLON – The District 203 Board of Education was forced to accept $3.65 million in deficit spending for Fiscal Year 2017 as a result of a lack of state categorical payments at the June board meeting.

District 203 Business Official Tammy Steckel reported to the Board of Education the need to amend the 2016-17 budget to allow for increased deficit spending. Steckel stated that due to state payments not coming as planned, the direct revenues had to be decreased to a total of $31,625,600. Expenditures stayed the same, at a total of $53,281,100, resulting in a deficit of $3,655,500, which will be paid by using surplus funds. Following this amended spending, the district’s fund balance will drop from $14.7 million to just above $11 million.

 

To read the full article, pick up a copy of this week’s paper on newsstands now. Or, click here for the digital edition.

Frierdich Fireworks hosts annual Shiloh Fourth of July celebration

(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Nick Miller)

SHILOH – As has become a Fourth of July tradition, Three Springs Park played host to a fireworks display and public festival put on by Jean Frierdich and Frierdich Fireworks.

The event featured multiple musical acts, food, and a massive fireworks display at around 9:15 p.m. All of the fireworks used in the performance are legal in Illinois and can be purchased at any of the Frierdich Fireworks locations around the Metro East.

To read the full article, pick up a copy of this week’s paper on newsstands now. Or, click here for the digital edition.

Two Cents Worth – Place the blame at the right feet

Two Cents Column

Hard times are facing the state these days. The General Assembly was called back for a special session last week to consider a budget plan, which includes increased taxes. There are big implications if the lawmakers can’t come to some sort of an agreement. A government shut down would impact road construction, nursing homes, services for the poor and helpless, and, obviously, local schools.

At their board meeting last week, the District 90 Board of Education was essentially forced to transfer funds from its Working Cash fund into the Transportation fund to make up a significant shortfall. That shortfall only exists because the money was supposed to come from the State of Illinois. Superintendent Carrie Hruby told me that its hard for them to make any real cuts to the transportation expenses because they can’t reasonably cut routes and the kids have to get to school. The one area where the district has little control over their expenses happens to be the area where the state impacts them the worst, right now at least.

To read the full article, pick up a copy of this week’s paper on newsstands now. Or, click here for the digital edition.

Temple family honors member lost at Pearl Harbor

Members of the United States Navy prepare to perform the Flag Folding Ceremony near the end of the service. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Nick Miller)

SHILOH – After more than 75 years, US Navy Seaman First Class Robert Monroe “Bobby” Temple returned home to his family.

Temple, a native of Wathena, Kansas, died during the bombing of Pearl Harbor while he was serving aboard the USS Oklahoma. Prior to heading to Hawaii, Temple met a gal in San Francisco and had grand plans to marry her and start a life together. However, fate had other plans for the 19-year-old sailor and he became one of the 2,335 who passed away on December 7, 1941

To read the full article, pick up a copy of this week’s paper on newsstands now. Or, click here for the digital edition

O’Fallon Council approves guidelines for establishments wanting video gaming

O’FALLON – In an effort to define what it means to be a licensed establishment that can have video gaming, the City Council approved an ordinance Monday night that lists requirements for businesses wanting to install the gambling machines.

To read the full article, pick up a copy of this week’s paper on newsstands now. Or, click here for the digital edition

O’Fallon area takes part in annual Relay for Life

O’FALLON – Eighteen teams took to the track at OTHS to take part in the annual American Cancer Society Relay for Life.

This year the event was holiday themed, featuring music and more from the various holidays that make up another year of life for those struggling with cancer.

“Over the course of the night we will honor those we have lost, celebrate those who have triumphed, and remember the personal stories of those we hold dear. And we’re also going to celebrate life and the fact that each year more discoveries are made that bring us closer to a world without cancer,” said Jim Fuecht, event chairman.

The money raised goes to research and programs designed to assist both those fighting cancer and their caregivers.

To make a donation, visit www.relayforlife.org/ofallonil.

(O’Fallon Weekly Photos by Nick Miller)

Two Cents Worth – What is on your Summer Bucket List?

This week we began a series that will showcase some of the fun things available to do around the O’Fallon and Shiloh area during the summertime. We’re calling it the O’Fallon Weekly Summer Bucket List and we’re hoping you all get into the fun.

There are lots of things to do around town and there’s no way for anyone to know everything available to them. The Summer Bucket List is designed to showcase some of the activities kids, adults, and families can do. However, we can’t highlight everything. And that’s where you come in.

We’re asking that while you’re out and about doing your local summer activities, take a quick photo and upload it to your favorite social media platform with the hashtag #ofallonweeklySBL. This way, not only can we share our ideas for fun in the summer, but you can share yours as well.

Earlier today, Maxwell and I took some time out to visit the Splash Pad and cool off a bit. The little guy is still learning to walk, but he did great tootling around and putting his hands in the jets of water. He didn’t really like getting his face too wet though. While I was there I took the photo featured with this column. This photo is exactly what we’re talking about for the Summer Bucket List. Just take a quick pic of your family having fun and then tag it online with the hashtag #ofallonweeklySBL.

There’s no excuse for kids to be sitting around saying they’re bored. There are lots of fun things to do and encounter in O’Fallon and Shiloh. So start thinking about what activities are on your Summer Bucket List and start checking them off. And be sure to let us in on the fun.

O’Fallon Planning Commission hears plans for new Sugarfire BBQ location

 

An artist’s rendering of the outside of the proposed Sugarfire BBQ location to be built north of The Blade Building
(Submitted Photo)

O’FALLON – Sugarfire BBQ is coming across the river and to O’Fallon. The St. Louis based BBQ chain has filed plans with the city’s Planning Commission and Scott Plocher of the Green Mount Development Group will present on Tuesday evening.

The application calls for a 3,800 square foot restaurant to be located at 1405 North Green Mount Road, which is located just north of The Blade Building, which houses 1818 Chophouse and other businesses and offices. An 800 square foot outdoor dining space would also be constructed.

To read the full article, pick up a copy of this week’s paper on newsstands now. Or, click here for the digital edition

Two Cents Worth – Looking for your thoughts

Two Cents Column

I keep getting pushed into the corner each week and left with no space to write my musings! While some of you might be jumping for joy, every once in a while I think I put together a column actually worth reading….

Our list of contributors has grown and continues to grow. I think this will require a re-organization of our editorial pages to get things more in their proper place. I hope to do that sooner rather than later.

In the meantime, I’m still waiting to hear from all of you about what sorts of things you’re looking for out of the Weekly. Josh Martie’s Creative Gardener column has been a popular addition, but what else would you be interested in reading?

Drop me a line at Nick@OFallonWeekly.com and give me your thoughts and suggestions. Obviously I want you to have the best possible reading experience so that you feel as though the paper was worth your money to purchase it. So give me your thoughts!