Lebanon School District approves 3.99 percent levy increase

By Angela Simmons

LEBANON – The Lebanon School Board recently voted to approve their 2018 tax levy. The total levy for $4,209,892 will now be filed with St. Clair County. The 3.99 percent increase in the levy will begin bringing in funds for the district in the 2019 fiscal year.

$2,600,265 is being levied for the education fund. Other levied funds include $407,564 for operations and maintenance, $163,025 for transportation, $543,528 for tort immunity, and $32,604 for special education. $40,755 is being levied for both the working cash and fire prevention & safety funds. 

$159,601 is being levied for Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund and $197,668 for Social Security contributions. 

“This is put together in December, and finalized or approved in March. This is the tax collected from local homeowners, businesses and railroads, and any other farmland, for next year’s school year,” explained Superintendent Patrick Keeney. 

He also explained how the TIF district would impact the district during future levies, but indicated that there were no effects from it at this time.

The board also approved the purchase of a large bus with storage in the amount of $81,284 through Midwest International. The bus will hold up to 71 passengers and come equipped with storage for team bags and a camera system and is ready to deliver to the school.

The board approved the purchase of two large buses last month, one with storage underneath and one without. Since then, a third bus began having issues and Keeney and the district transportation director recommended replacing it. Trade in-value for the bus with issues would be $6,700. 

Board member Pam Leggans was the only vote against the purchase, citing concerns of spending large amounts and then possibly having to be hit with multiple buses needing to be replaced in a single year in the future.

The next board meeting will be January 16 at 7:30 p.m.

In Other News:

• Parent Roberto Roma is encouraging the school board and soccer coaches to make him a Christmas wish list. He offered to help with the Lebanon High School soccer team, particularly helping students that wouldn’t otherwise be able to play have the means to pay for the program. 

Roma, who is originally from Italy and has previously played professional soccer in his home country, has two sons that are very active in the sport. His oldest son has played internationally and was on the high school soccer team this past season. Roma noticed that the team could use some equipment that it currently cannot afford, and wanted to help make the program available to any child that wants to play. 

He will be partnering with a local nonprofit organization, Chapter One Project, as a means to distribute funding. Also through the Chapter One Project, any student that needs cleats or other equipment will be able to get what they need. 

Roma and his sons are also nationally licensed referees, and he has 20 years of coaching experience. He assured the board that he does not want to coach the team, but does want to lend his experience to Head Coach Cameran Keepper and the assistant coaches. 

“There’s only one coach, and that’s not what I’m here for,” Roma said. He also volunteered to utilize all of his connections in the sport to bring in more resources to help the team. 

Roma said “The cool thing is there’s nowhere to go from here but up.”

O’Fallon City Council approves food truck ordinance, tax levy

Mayor Herb Roach and Mayor for the Day Ryan Lotz presented retiring council members Matthew Smallheer, Richie Meile and Andrew Lopinot with plaques for their service to the O’Fallon community. All three aldermen were elected to St. Clair County positions in last month’s elections. Lopinot has served Ward 5 since May 2017, Smallheer has served Ward 4 since May 2015, Meile has served Ward 1 since May 2011.
(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Martha Stoffel)

By Martha Stoffel

O’FALLON – The O’Fallon City Council approved the mobile food vendor ordinance Monday night with a vote of 8-4. Discussions surrounding regulation of food trucks, specifically in downtown O’Fallon, has been ongoing since September.  

At the last city council meeting, a motion was approved for the ordinance to be sent back to the Community Development Committee for a second reading. Lengthy discussion took place at last week’s Community Development Committee meeting between committee members, other council members, staff and residents. Ultimately, the committee voted to send the ordinance to council for second reading with no changes. 

The ordinance establishes that each food truck will be required to get an annual mobile food truck license through the city that will cost $125, as well as a $25 annual food license. The license will be issued by the City Clerk’s office and will require appropriate permits from the county health department before issuance. The license covers from May 1st – April 30th of each fiscal year. 

A special event permit will be required for a food truck to operate at any time in the city of O’Fallon. The permit will be issued through the Community Development Department, after approval by City Council. The council will review each event permit (for at least the first year) and will be able to put in place any specific restrictions (location, time, date etc.) necessary at that time and on a case-by-case basis. The special event permit may be requested by an individual food truck or the event organizer, this will include events organized by the O’Fallon Parks and Recreation Department. It was clarified at the committee meeting that multiple events, at the same location by the same organizer, could be approved under one special event permit. 

Ward 3 alderman Matthew Gilreath took time during discussion at Monday’s council meeting to explain why he would be voting no on the ordinance. Gilreath expressed intent to take care of the people that have been in town and invested in our town, but also recognized we have a community where new things can happen and we can have opportunities to have new developments and new businesses. 

“I think we’re getting into too much government reach. I think we need to definitely have things like licenses…traffic control and where they are allowed to set-up. Putting it into our hands with the special event permits gives us too much oversight. I don’t think we need to pick and choose who we allow and who we don’t allow. I think if somebody has private property, and it’s zoned for business, and somebody wants to have a food truck up there that should be their right.”

Gilreath also reminded council he has brought up at previous committee meetings a desire to see some exemptions in place regarding food trucks for businesses that have brick and mortar locations in O’Fallon. 

Ward 6 alderman Ned Drolet also mentioned his problem with the perception of a portion of the ordinance, and that he would also be voting no. Aldermen Smallheer and Meile resigned prior to the meeting, so they were unable to vote. Ward 2 Aldermen Jerry Albrecht and Bob Kueker joined Gilreath and Drolet in voting no, but there were enough votes for the ordinance to pass. 

Council also approved the 2018 tax levy. The proposed tax levy request is $6,688,900, a 0.86% increase from 2017. A tax levy request is based on a dollar amount, not a rate, so the city tax rate will be determined upon final calculation by the county of the City’s total Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) from property assessments. The tax rate will not be set by the county until April 2019, so it is unclear what the actual rate will be at this time. Despite the 0.86% increase to the levy, staff is projecting the city’s tax rate to go down slightly from last year because of the 1.1% total increase to the rate setting EAV currently estimated by the county assessor’s office.

City Council approves tax levy, Capital Improvements Plan

Presentation to Chief Eric Van Hook from LtCol Yon Dugger for his service as the Honorary Commander to the 375th Security Squadron at Scott AFB. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Martha Stoffel)

By Martha Stoffel

City Council approved on first reading the 2018 tax levy and the 2020-2024 Capital Improvements Plan Monday night. The proposed tax levy request is $6,688,900, a 0.86% increase from 2017. A tax levy request is based on a dollar amount, not a rate, so the city tax rate will be determined upon final calculation by the county of the City’s total Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) from property assessments. The levy will be voted on by council for a second reading at the December 3rd council meeting and submitted to the county after that, but the tax rate will not be set by the county until April 2019.

The preliminary estimates from the county regarding the EAV is an overall growth of 1.1% over last year. The city saw a 24% increase from the previous year in disabled veterans exemptions, which reduced the rate setting EAV by $45,838,113. The St. Clair County Board of Review has projected a reduction in EAV of $2.1 million from property tax appeals.  The city is expecting the county to apply a 1.02% multiplier for both O’Fallon and Caseyville Township, raising the EAV by approximately $6.9 million. 

Despite the 0.86% increase to the levy, staff is projecting the city’s tax rate to go down slightly from last year because of the 1.1% total increase to the rate setting EAV. 

Council received a presentation at the October 29th Committee of the Whole of the 5-year Capital Improvements Plan (CIP) and again at the November 12th Finance committee meeting. The presented CIP is for the period of May 1, 2019 through April 30, 2024, fiscal years 2020 – 2024. Each city department included projects and funding sources. Implementation of projects are based on available revenue when the budget is put in place each year and approved by council, so listed projects may or may not occur in the fiscal year presented.

The 2020-2024 Capital Improvements Plan totals $66,721,423 worth of projects, with $25,732,823 for FY2020. Almost eighty-eight percent of the CIP projects are for public infrastructure, with vehicles (6.6%) and equipment (5.7%) representing the next two largest project categories. The CIP will be a helpful tool when staff sets the upcoming budget. 

After a motion from Ward 6 alderman Ned Drolet, and approval by council 12-2, the ordinance adding a Mobile Food Vehicle Vendor License and Fee will be sent back to the Community Development Committee. Drolet indicated the ordinance did not have a second reading in committee, and wanted to make sure that the community had the opportunity to speak or not regarding this ordinance before the final reading during Council. The ordinance will appear at next Monday’s Community Development committee meeting.