City, School Districts discuss possible use of MidAmerica Enterprise Zone and tax incentives for developers

The planned development consists of 1,500 acres north of Scott Air Force Base, located between Interstate-64 Exits 19 and 21. The City of O’Fallon will invest over
$3,000,000 for public infrastructure.  (Submitted Photo)

By Martha Stoffel

O’FALLON – Representatives from the City of O’Fallon met with board members and superintendents from O’Fallon District 90 and OTHS District 203 on February 12th to discuss the districts’ voluntary participation in a property tax abatement incentive for new, commercial projects in the Mid America Enterprise Zone. 

The city was approached by developer TriStar Companies regarding the development of approximately 200 acres within the 1,500 acre enterprise zone. Vice President of Construction and Development, Bobby Klucker, presented at the meeting the company’s initial design plans and why the property tax abatement incentive is a critical component for their development to take place. 

The city has envisioned this area for years as the Mid-America Commerce Center, with businesses in light manufacturing, engineering and a distribution center to diversify the economy of O’Fallon and provide more local jobs for residents. The area is generally located north of I-64 between exits 19 and 21. The city is currently in the process of annexing several parcels in the enterprise zone to be able to bring sewer to the area to make it more attractive to developers. 

The enterprise zone was established in 2000 and will terminate on December 31, 2030. State law will allow for the reapplication of the zone, starting in the 28th year, for a 15-year term with the possibility for a 10-year expansion after that. The enterprise zone currently offers several economic development incentives for commercial projects, to include sales tax exemption of building materials, investment tax credits, job creation tax credits, utility tax exemption and manufacturing machinery sales tax exemption. Property tax abatement has not been an incentive offered in the MidAmerica Enterprise Zone, but will be added upon approval of the ordinance amendment being sent to the state by the municipalities within the zone. The city of O’Fallon will approve the ordinance on second reading at their February 19th council meeting.

The property tax abatement incentive is for ten years, with a declining scale in abatement. Property tax years one through seven will be at 100 percent abatement, year eight at 70 percent, year nine at 40 percent, and year ten at 10  percent. The abatement is applied on a per-project basis, and the ten-year period does not start until the “first assessment year in which the improvements are fully assessed.” The property tax abatement incentive would terminate at the time the enterprise zone terminates, regardless of what year of the abatement schedule a parcel would fall. Should a new enterprise zone be established, the taxing bodies would have the opportunity again to choose whether or not to participate in the property tax abatement incentive. 

There is not a requirement for all taxing bodies within the zone to participate in the property tax abatement incentive. City staff and Klucker have indicated that the project TriStar Companies is proposing will not happen without both school districts’ participation in the abatement incentive, since their portion of the tax bill represents such a large percentage of the overall bill. 

As part of the presentation, Klucker described a similar development TriStar has done at the Gateway Commerce Center in Madison County, with businesses like Proctor & Gamble, Unilever and WorldWide Technology and a primary focus in the warehousing and logistics industry. A study done in 2017 by the SIUE School of Business that focused on the three large logistics centers within Madison County, the Gateway Commerce Center, Lakeview Commerce Park and Northgate Industrial Park, indicated their combined economic impact to be over $1.3 billion, with nearly 6,000 workers and approximately $6 million in property taxes in 2016.  

TriStar Companies is proposing their initial project to be a six-phase construction of 100,000 square foot distribution centers, with construction beginning as soon as Spring 2019. For the developer to close on the property and begin construction, the taxing bodies will first need to approve a resolution to abate their portion of the property taxes. Klucker spoke to the group to explain the need for property tax abatement saying “we don’t need it to pay for the additional development costs, what we need tax abatement for is strictly as a pass-through to the tenants. For us to draw tenants to this area, we have to compete with other adjacent cities, other adjacent counties and other adjacent states.”

Businesses wanting to reduce their transportation costs through supply chain management are looking to put in distribution centers, and they are looking within a 400-500 mile radius at areas like Memphis, Indianapolis, Kansas City, and Chicago. These locations currently offer some sort of incentive program, typically property tax abatement or industrial bonds. For TriStar Companies to be competitive when quoting rates to tenants, Klucker said property tax abatement has to be in place for something to happen off of Rieder Road. He also believes that the lack of property tax abatement in the enterprise zone since its establishment is likely the reason nothing has developed out there over the last 20 years. 

As an incentive to the school districts for their participation in the property tax abatement for the Enterprise Zone, the city “shall immediately declare a surplus in the Special Tax Allocation Fund for TIF #1 (Rasp Farm).” Upon the declaration of a surplus, the funds would be distributed to all taxing bodies within the TIF accordingly. 

TIF #1 expired June 19, 2018, and the funds remaining in the TIF account are currently earmarked by the city to install a sewer line to the west portion of the Enterprise Zone. This sewer line would not service the portion of the Enterprise Zone where TriStar is proposing development. That area will require a sewer line from the city to be installed along Rieder Road which could ultimately service the entire area and negate the need for the sewer line on the west side of the Enterprise Zone. If the districts do not participate in the property tax abatement, the city has indicated they will still consider going forward with the sewer line on the west side of the zone since it falls within the TIF #1 boundaries and the funds can be used for public infrastructure. 

School district administrators are concerned about how the increase in Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) from the developments will ultimately affect their state funding. The rate-setting EAV with St. Clair County will not include the properties in the Enterprise Zone, but administrators believe the state will still include the EAV increase when calculating the state’s payments to the districts with the new evidence-based funding model. The previously used General State Aid model allowed the districts to be held harmless for abated property taxes in an enterprise zone, which would remove the EAV from their tax rolls for funding calculation purposes. The evidence-based funding model takes into consideration a district’s ability to meet funding needs on a local level when determining the amounts the state pays. A significant increase in EAV for the districts could result in lower payments from the state. 

The other main concern for the districts involve timeliness of property assessments by the county. Since the abatement schedule does not start until the assessment on the property is done upon substantial completion, the districts do not want to lose out on future property taxes due to inefficiencies at the county level. OTHS superintendent Dr. Darcy Benway has requested the verbiage in the resolution reflect assurances and protections to the districts that assessments will be done in a timely manner, or alterations to the schedule be allowed when assessments are delayed. City staff indicated they will look into whether or not language can be added to the resolution or if the assurance needs to be put in place another way. 

Property tax revenue are the school districts’ primary means of funding, representing approximately 65 percent of their operating fund budget. In the preliminary budget for FY20, the city of O’Fallon indicates property tax revenue represent roughly three percent of their general fund budget. The city’s primary revenue sources are sales tax, state income tax and utility tax, revenue streams not available to school districts. 

The school boards will vote on the resolution at their March school board meetings. District 90 will hold their meeting on Tuesday, March 19 and OTHS will hold their meeting on Thursday, March 21. Discussion of the resolution may be on the agenda for their February meetings. The city has indicated they will proceed with approaching the other taxing bodies to ask for their participation in the property tax abatement incentive. 

Deadline to remove items from City Cemetery set on March 1

O’FALLON – The City of O’Fallon has announced that the deadline for removing all flowers and decorations from the City Cemetery is Friday, March 1, 2019.  

Any items left on the graves will be removed by staff per cemetery rules and regulations. Items may be placed back on graves beginning Tuesday, March 5th. 

As a reminder, only flowers in a vase are permitted on the monuments.  Any other items will be removed by the Cemetery Staff.   

If you have extenuating circumstances, please call the City Clerk’s office at 624-4500 ext. 8715.

Council declares city a Purple Heart Community

(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Martha Stoffel)

By Martha Stoffel

City of O’Fallon will become a Purple Heart Community, upon proclamation by Mayor Herb Roach at the November 5th city council meeting. The Purple Heart is the oldest military decoration in present use and was initially created as the Badge of Military Merit by General George Washington in 1782. The proclamation encourages the citizens of O’Fallon to show their appreciation for the sacrifices of the Purple Heart recipients have made in defending our freedoms, to acknowledge their courage, and to show them the honor and support they have earned. 

The proclamation was read by Purple Heart recipient and Ward 5 alderwoman Gwen Randolph. City council members who have served in the military and O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce President Sid LeGrand joined Mayor Herb Roach in unveiling the new Purple Heart Community sign that will be displayed throughout O’Fallon.

City reviews results of citizen survey at town hall meeting

By Martha Stoffel

O’FALLON – O’Fallon mayor Herb Roach and City Administrator Walter Denton presented results from the 2018 National Citizen Survey and provided economic development updates at last week’s quarterly Town Hall meeting. 

The city of O’Fallon has conducted a citizen survey six times since 2005. In June, a mail survey was sent to 1,500 randomly selected residents. The city received 417 responses, with the survey company indicating a five percent margin of error. 

The standard survey template is used by more than 500 jurisdictions nationwide, but the city also had the ability to include O’Fallon-specific questions. Staff was able to analyze the responses in comparisons to other cities, as well as O’Fallon’s previous survey results. Survey results are available on the city’s website in the Administration department’s page. 

Overall, residents feel O’Fallon is a good place to live and raise children, and they enjoy a high quality of life here. Citizens support the overall direction of O’Fallon, and over 80 percent felt they receive good or excellent quality of services from the city government. 

Safety continues to be a top priority for residents. Police, fire and EMS services all received over 90 percent favorable ratings, with the overall feeling of safety in O’Fallon at 95 percent. The city parks also received over 90 percent favorable ratings, with 87 percent of responders having visited a neighborhood or city park.  

The city saw increases from previous surveys in the favorable responses regarding stormwater, healthcare, health services and economic development. Denton attributes increases in those areas to the city’s ongoing projects towards stormwater remediation in the older parts of town, construction of St. Elizabeth’s hospital and visible economic growth. 

One section of questions the city included on the survey were in regards to school consolidation. Last year, the O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce formed a committee to oversee a consolidation feasibility study. While a feasibility has not been completed yet, the city felt like there was enough public interest in the topic to include it in the survey. They also felt the results could be beneficial to the chamber’s efforts. 

The options listed in the study were: no school consolidation, consolidation of O’Fallon’s K-8 schools only, consolidation of all K-8 schools in O’Fallon and Shiloh, consolidation of only O’Fallon’s school districts, and total consolidation (District 90, Central 104, Shiloh 85 and OTHS). Survey participants were asked to rate each option individually; strongly oppose, somewhat oppose, support somewhat and strongly support. Forty-six percent of responders were not in favor of any consolidation, and 65 percent were in favor of total consolidation. 

The most favorable consolidation option was the consolidation of O’Fallon’s K-8 schools only, this would be O’Fallon District 90 and Central 104. Total consolidation received the most support from responders age 55+ at 74 percent, but no consolidation received the most support from responders ages 18-34 at 64 percent. 

24th Annual Salute to Scott Tribute and Business Expo and Purple Heart Community Recognition scheduled

The O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce, along with the City of O’Fallon and Village of Shiloh are hosting the 24th annual Salute to Scott Tribute and Business Expo on Saturday, November 10, at Gateway Classic Cars in O’Fallon from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. 

Last year was the first year the event moved indoors and was celebrated in conjunction with Veteran’s Day. The response was so positive, it was decided to continue at that location.

This year, in addition to all of the usual events, the Chamber and municipalities will be recognizing and honoring Purple Heart Recipients. Both communities have recently been designated as Purple Heart Communities. Congressman Mike Bost, Honorable Mayors Jim Vernier and Herb Roach will read a proclamation, recognize Purple Heart recipients in attendance, and unveil the associated signage to be placed in both communities. If you are a Purple Heart recipient, the Chamber would be honored to have you at this event and at this 10 a.m. ceremony.  Please RSVP to uspurpleheart@gmail.com by October 28. 

This event is organized by O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee to show appreciation for base personnel and to increase the awareness of the important relationships that exist between Scott Air Force Base, its families, and surrounding communities. Bring your military or government civilian identification card and get in free which gives you access to all the food, fun, and prizes. 

If you’re associated with Scott Air Force Base or an O’Fallon-Shiloh resident who directly supports the base, please bring your family and join the Chamber for free food, drinks, and activities.

Free hot dogs, chips and soda will be served 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.  Local restaurants will be on-hand to provide “A Taste of.”  The O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a business expo from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. The expo features displays from local businesses. These businesses, as well as all of O’Fallon-Shiloh, are happy to show their appreciation for those “who serve.” 

While the adults are enjoying the classic cars on display, the kids can have fun at the Kid Zone. There will be mascots on hand to visit and we even have FREDBIRD® from noon until 1 p.m. Come take your picture with him!  

Make sure you stop by the information booth any time from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. and register for attendance prizes. Names will be drawn at the end of the event and winners notified. The Chamber have some great prizes again this year – don’t miss out!

For more information on the Salute to Scott Day event, contact the O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce at (618) 632-3377. As the event gets closer,  the Chamber will have information on its website and Facebook page.

Veterans Day program scheduled at O’Fallon Monument for November 12

O’FALLON – The City of O’Fallon will hold its annual Veterans Day Program on Monday, November 12 at the O’Fallon Veterans’ Monument, located at 737 East Wesley Drive, O’Fallon. 

The guest speaker will be Major General John C Flourney Jr, Chief of Staff, US TRANSCOM. 

Participants will include the O’Fallon District 90 & St Clare School Fifth Grade Music programs; OTHS AFJ ROTC; VFW Post 805; Miss O’Fallon Adriana Scagliarini; Miss Kat Rubush; Chaplain Anthony Angell, USAF, 375 AMW/HC, the USAF Honor Guard Rifle Team, among many others. 

During the ceremony, the names of 27 newly-inscribed veterans will be introduced.  

The program will commence at 11 a.m. Patriotic music selections will begin at approximately 10:40 a.m. Veterans are encouraged to wear their medals and decorations that day.  

Please bring your own lawn chairs & drinks. 

In case of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held at The First Baptist Church of O’Fallon, 1111 East Highway 50, O’Fallon.   

Attendees should give themselves a little extra time to arrive, as there will be some traffic redirection that day.  Handicapped parking will be available at and near The Monument. 

O’Fallon PD has adopted new “Lock It or Lose It” program

The O’Fallon, Illinois Police Department has adopted a new program entitled, “LOCK IT or LOSE IT”.  The intent of the program is to promote awareness in hopes of eliminating thefts from automobiles occurring in the City of O’Fallon.  The O’Fallon Police Department has currently investigated several thefts from vehicles, in which many of the vehicles were unlocked.  Items taken in these quickly committed crimes range from spare change to wallets, personal/business documents, electronics, and firearms

In most, if not all instances, this type of crime can be prevented by simply locking car doors, assuring all the windows are completely shut, removing all valuable items, keeping change and charging cords out of sight, and NEVER leave keys inside the vehicle.

Getting in the mindset of locking doors to your home, garages, and vehicles is the first step of minimizing the chance of becoming a crime victim.

O’Fallon Police Officers will begin deploying “LOCK IT or LOSE IT” yard signs randomly in residential and business areas throughout the City of O’Fallon. This program supports the mission of the O’Fallon Police Department’s dedication to the community by proactively solving problems and protecting life and property through education and prevention.

For more information about the “LOCK IT or LOSE IT” program, please feel free to contact Captain James Cavins, 618-624-9539.

Questions surround proposed city investment policy

By Martha Stoffel

O’FALLON – Discussion surrounding the proposal for an updated City Investment Policy continued at Tuesday evening’s O’Fallon City Council meeting from last week’s Finance and Administration Committee meeting. 

Public comment at last week’s meeting was not allowed due to time constraints. Resident Charlie Pitts addressed the council about an email he sent to them following the committee meeting with some questions he had regarding the policy, and he urged council members to send the policy back to committee. Alderman Matthew Gilreath made a motion to send the policy back to committee to allow for residents to provide their feedback and ask questions that the city council meeting does not allow. 

There were questions from council members regarding the timing necessary to get the new policy approved to generate, receive and review Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for the reinvestment of some CDs that expire December 1, 2018. After determining a Finance and Administration committee meeting would be scheduled next week to accommodate for more discussion from council members and the public prior to a second reading of the policy during council, Gilreath withdrew his motion. 

 The city is planning to issue requests for proposals (RFPs) soon for banking/financial services and investing services, and an updated policy was recommended. Staff is also proposing RFPs to be reviewed by an advisory investment committee to make recommendations to the city council.

Further review from the city attorney, and possible consultation with a municipal finance lawyer, was requested by Treasurer David Hursey and other council members regarding the naming of the fiduciary authority and investment officer. 

The original motion to amend Chapter 31 of the Code of Ordinances regarding the City Investment Policy passed on first reading with 10 ‘yes’ votes, a ‘no’ from Alderman Jerry Albrecht, and a ‘present’ vote from Alderman Gilreath. Aldermen Dan Witt and Mark Morton, both members of the Finance and Administration Committee, were absent. The policy will be discussed at a Finance and Administration committee meeting Monday, September 10 at City Hall at 7 p.m.

Scenes from Saturday at City Fest

O’FALLON – The inaugural City Fest continued on Saturday, August 18, with a car show and a biathlon both starting at 8 a.m. Rides, games, and food opened by noon, and a variety of musical acts played through the day. The parade took place at 5 p.m.  

Crowds were larger on the second day, especially following the conclusion of the parade. 
(O’Fallon Weekly Photos by Nick Miller)

To view photos from the first day of City Fest, click HERE

To view photos from Saturday’s parade, click HERE.

Residents line the street for the City Fest Parade

O’FALLON – Crowds of people lined up along South Lincoln Avenue Saturday evening for the inaugural City Fest’s parade. 

The stream of cars and parade entries began at Old City Hall, located just north of the intersection of North Lincoln and Washington Street, and headed south until it ended at the intersection of South Lincoln and 7th Street.

There were a wide variety of entries, including first responders, marching bands, local politicians, businesses, civic organizations, school groups, and more.

Check out photos from the first day of City Fest by clicking HERE

Check out photos from the second day of City Fest by clicking HERE

Public Safety officials discuss how city can notify neighbors of a house fire

By Martha Stoffel

O’FALLON – During Monday evening’s Public Safety Committee meeting, Ward 1 Alderman Ross Rosenberg asked Public Safety officials about notification of residents of neighboring structures when there is a fire. 

A recent residential fire in Rosenberg’s ward on Callaway Court on required multiple units from neighboring districts. Rosenberg indicated an adjacent property is an in-home daycare and was curious about whether or not a business like that would receive notification.

Police Chief Eric Van Hook and Fire Chief Brent Saunders spoke to the fluidity of a structure fire and how notification for neighbors may not be available in the moment from fire personnel. Van Hook said he would look into potentially using the city’s Code Red notification system through dispatch or City Hall in a situation like this. A list of daycares are in the city’s emergency operations plan, assuming they are registered with the state and with the city. 

“Typically in those types of situations we refer to ‘shelter in place’ is usually the best option; close your windows, close your doors and don’t come out. Especially with young children, because once they exit the building now they’re in the environment that could cause health problems. That would typically be our first move, unless the fire would move in any direction that we would need evacuation,” Saunders said. 

The residential fire at 129 Callaway Court on July 31 ended up being a four-alarm, almost five-alarm, fire because of limited manpower to the fire departments during the day. In addition to the manpower limitations, the type of construction of the home, using open floor joists, allowed the fire to spread the length of the home quickly and cause the floor to begin to collapse. The fire had to be addressed from outside the structure, causing it to be much more labor intensive. A couple of fire personnel were transported for heat injuries, but other than that no one was injured. 

Southview Plaza demolition still planned, facing some delay

By Martha Stoffel

O’FALLON – Progress on the demolition of Southview Plaza is continuing, albeit slowly.

During a period for the public to ask questions, resident Charlie Pitts requested an update regarding the demolition of Southview Plaza. 

Community Development Director Ted Shekell indicated that they have received the demolition plan for the buildings, within the timeline laid out in TIF reimbursement plan. While a specific demolition date is not available, the demolition plans indicate the current plan is to begin tearing down the building located next to South Lincoln Avenue first, moving from south to north. 

City staff are still hopeful all of the structures can be demolished at one time, but the property owner is still working on a plan with Papa John’s, so the buildings may need to be demolished one at a time. 

“Papa John’s is kind of the cork in the bottle. Nothing to do with the city. Apparently Papa John’s has got an awfully good lease and they’re having to work out a deal to get them out so they can tear the building down,” Shekell said.

O’Fallon’s newest city council member embracing new role

By Annabelle Knef

The newest member of the O’Fallon City Council, Ward 5 Alderwoman Gwendolyn Randolph, is embracing her new role and diving deep into the inner workings of the city. 

Sworn into office on August 6, Randolph was appointed as alderwoman by Mayor Herb Roach to replace Courtney Marsh, who stepped down from the council after she moved out of her ward. 

Randolph said that it’s very exciting being appointed to the council and that “historically it is monumental.” 

“I’m really here to do the best job that I can for my constituents and for the city of O’Fallon,” Randolph said.

Randolph said that she heard about the council opening at a recent township meeting. 

“I went home and thought about it because every community I have lived in I’ve always been very active so I thought this is a great way to really get to know my neighbors better and my community and to serve,” she said. 

Randolph said that in the week she has been in her position, she has been meeting a lot of people and also reading through old archives “to try to get a knowledge base so I could know how to best serve.” 

Randolph will serve on two city committees: Public Works and Public Safety. 

“I have a criminal justice background so public safety is huge for me. One thing about where I live – I feel very safe,” she said. “I think O’Fallon has done a great job and I want to help sustain those things that are already in place.”

Randolph is a single mother of a 27-year-old son and currently works as the science content specialist at East St. Louis District 189. 

“I have 18 years in education,” she said. 

She also has a military background – she was a United States Navy air traffic control facility watch supervisor over over seven years. 

Randolph said that O’Fallon city officials have all been “very helpful.”

“I’m still learning – I’m sure I’m going to have a lot of questions, but everyone has been so helpful,” she said. 

Randolph said that she plans on reaching out to former Ward 5 alderwoman Courtney Marsh “to find out what the burning issues were.” 

Randolph said that she is “very excited and happy” to be serving the community. “I do plan to be around for a while.”

Roundabout at Old Collinsville and Milburn now open

The intersection of Old Collinsville Road and Milburn School Road has been reopened to traffic. Construction of the roundabout at this location is substantially complete.

O’FALLON The intersection of Old Collinsville Road and Milburn School Road has been reopened to traffic. Construction of the roundabout at this location is substantially complete.

“Thank you for your patience during this improvement project,” said Mayor Roach. “This intersection will be much safer and have less traffic congestion with the roundabout in place.”

The work consisted of storm sewer and curb installation, construction of a roundabout and new pavement. The work was completed by Hanks Excavating and Landscaping.

O’Fallon polling place locations changed

By Pam Funk

O’FALLON – Some O’Fallon residents will be voting in a new polling place during the November election.

The Board approved changes causing voters in Caseyville Township Precinct 002 to vote at Christ Church, located at 339 Frank Scott Parkway East in Fairview Heights. Additionally, voters in Caseyville Township Precinct 012 and O’Fallon Township Precinct 013 will now vote at the O’Fallon Fire Department Headquarters at 1215 Taylor Road in O’Fallon. Finally, O’Fallon Township Precinct 002 will now vote at the City of O’Fallon Library.