City Council honors Troop 163 for their “Birthday in a Bag” efforts

Mayor Herb Roach poses with members of Girl Scout Troop 163 who were honored at Monday’s City Council meeting. The girls spearheaded an effort at Hinchcliffe
Elementary to collect “Birthday in a Bag” donations. A “Birthday in a Bag” is a bag that contains everything a family would need to celebrate a child’s birthday at home. 
(Submitted Photo)

By Martha Stoffel

O’FALLON – Mayor Herb Roach and the O’Fallon City County recognized Girl Scout Troop 163 from Hinchcliffe Elementary school for their work collecting items to put together “Birthday in a Bag” donations for the O’Fallon Food Pantry. 

A “Birthday in a Bag” is a bag that contains everything a family would need to celebrate a child’s birthday at home. 

The girls set a goal of collecting enough items for thirty bags, but they were able to put together 193 and made donations to additional communities of Belleville, Caseyville, East St. Louis and Fairview Heights. 

Because of their efforts, the troop earned the Bronze Award, the highest honor for a Junior Girl Scout. The mayor and their troop leaders presented the girls each with a copy of the proclamation declaring March 18th as “Troop 163 Day” in O’Fallon and their Bronze Award pins. 

In other council news:

• Council approved on second reading the proposed development to be known as Mirage Wine and Spirits that is located at 2020 West Highway 50. 

This development has received several public comments against it since first appearing before the planning commission in February. The planning commission voted against the development 3-4 on February 12. The Community Development Committee approved it to go to council unanimously after adding a condition of fencing to be provided along the property line.  

City Council was divided during the first reading with a vote of 8-5 for the project. 

During the second reading at the Community Development Committee an additional condition was added for the placement of security lighting. 

Monday night, the council voted 9-3 in favor of the development with Ward 5 Alderwomen Gwen Randolph and Ward 6 Alderman Ned Drolet absent. 

• Approval of an ordinance amendment regarding the construction of utility facilities in the right-of-way. This amendment deals with the small wireless facilities companies are beginning to use and gives authority to the City Administrator to execute form agreements for use of the right-of-ways. 

• Approval of an ordinance amendment regarding the registration for all hotels, motels, lodging house and rooming houses. Hotels cannot be compelled to provide registry information without a warrant or subpoena. 

• The mayor will hold Saturday hours March 23 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

• Ward 3 aldermen Matthew Gilreath and Kevin Hagarty will hold a Ward 3 Townhall on April 16 at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall. Residents are invited to attend.

Split council gives early approval to proposed liquor store

By Martha Stoffel

O’FALLON – The O’Fallon City Council was divided but ultimately gave first round approval to a new business, Mirage Liquor and Spirits, located on the west end of town in building previously occupied by Creve Coeur Camera.

The applicant, Davuthan Kilic, is requesting the property be rezoned to allow for packaged liquor sales. Residents and business owners near the proposed business location, 2020 West Highway 50, spoke against the rezoning citing concerns for safety, density of alcohol sales at that intersection and potential decline in property value. The property is located at the intersection of West Highway 50 and Old Collinsville Road. Currently a Huck’s convenience store operates on the northwest corner of the intersection, with a Motomart to be built on the southwest corner.

Dr. Anne Bollmeier operates the neighboring dental office, Bollmeier Dental, and is concerned about increased crime and shared research that included a study from Johns Hopkins University that concluded, “Alcohol outlets that sell for off-premise alcohol consumption have a stronger association of incidences with violent crime, including homicides, aggravated sexual assaults and robbery.” 

Bollmeier is particularly concerned about the safety of her staff. 

“I worry about letting my staff leave at night already with some of what’s going on in that area, and now I feel like this would definitely increase that. I have a lot of younger women working with me and for me, and I try and make sure they don’t even leave alone and it’s sad to me that have to even say that to my staff,” said Bollmeier.

A petition signed by 128 residents within the notification buffer zone of the property was presented to the council by Dr. James Bollmeier. 

“The 128 represent the residents in the area, and I think we need to take them into consideration,” said James Bollmeier. 

Property owner Brad McMillin addressed the council saying, “at the end of the day we’re making a lot of assumptions that it’s automatically going to cause trouble.” McMillin indicated he wants a decent business there and has talked with the business owner about everything from the aesthetics of the property, to security, lighting, and will work with the city regarding landscaping and any fencing that needs to be done. 

“The business owner doesn’t want any loitering going on there, and he’s going to keep decent hours,” said McMillin. The proposed business hours have the store opening at 10 a.m. each day, closing at 10 p.m. during the week and 11 p.m. on the weekend. 

McMillin shared with council that the business owner has talked about inviting the O’Fallon Police Department to have a substation at the business if they’d like. Regarding the assumption of increased crime, McMillin said “I’m not disputing the fact that things happen in this world, but you can’t automatically penalize a business that wants to come in the door.”

Council voted to approve the rezoning 8-5 after much discussion. Aldermen Jerry Albrecht, John Drolet, Ned Drolet, Bob Kueker and Gwen Randolph voted against the proposal and Alderman Chris Monroe was absent. 

Ward 5 Alderwoman Gwen Randolph shared research with the council regarding the effects of alcohol on the body, specifically the central nervous system, and her take from a community health and wellness perspective. Prior to the vote she commented additionally saying, “this is my part of town, I live in the community. I do not want to see a liquor store in my community.” 

Matthew Gilreath, Ward 3 Alderman commented “The original intent (of the property) was a 7-Eleven which sells packaged goods, so we’re not going off the beaten path here, we’re putting back something that was the original intent.” Gilreath also suggested when properties sit abandoned and they’re not taken care of, that also creates crime. He felt the proposed business meets or exceeds the ordinance requirements and would be returning the property to its original intent.  

Ward 4 Alderman John Drolet began his comments by recognizing the investments and contributions made into the city by McMillin and the Bollmeiers. He indicated a week ago he was in favor of this, but has had time to reflect and give thought as a business owner in town with a vacant building next door currently. 

“I thought, ‘Would I want a liquor store in a building next to mine,’ and I would not,” Drolet said. In a later comment, Drolet indicated that the residents and businesses in that area are opposed to this. “I think you have to listen to the people that are there, and not make decisions that ‘we know best.’ Maybe we don’t know best.” 

Some of the comments by residents and aldermen pointed toward whether or not a high-end liquor store would be successful on that end of town and with two gas stations across the intersection. Ward 7 Alderman David Cozad commented prior to the vote that it’s not his job to tell a business owner whether or not their business plan will work, but to determine if it fits what the city’s trying to do. Cozad also stated, “I agree that a building that is occupied is much better than a building that is sitting vacant.”

Ward 2 Alderman Bob Kueker expressed shared concerns with the current residents and neighbors, as well as those of the planning commission. “I don’t like denying businesses to O’Fallon, but I think there are other priorities in this location,” said Kueker.

The proposed rezoning ordinance will appear for second reading at the community development committee meeting on March 11 and for final approval before City Council on March 18.

O’Fallon City refers request for charity roadblocks to committee

By: Martha Stoffel

The O’Fallon Kiwanis Club made a request to the O’Fallon City Council for charity road blocks to be held at the intersections along State Street

O’FALLON – A request for charity roadblocks held at the intersections along State Street brought some confusion at the city council meeting Tuesday night.  

A request came before the council from the O’Fallon Kiwanis Club. This was the third request since the beginning of the year brought to the council regarding dates for a roadblock for the club. Their original request came at the January 7th council meeting for Friday, March 15 from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturday, March 16 from 8:00 a.m. to noon at the intersections of State Street and Smiley, as well as State Street and Lincoln. 

During that meeting, the council voted to amended the request to remove the Friday date, citing concerns for increased traffic in downtown O’Fallon during the time when residents are trying to get home from work and pick-up children from after care. The second request came at the following council meeting, January 22nd, for a roadblock on Saturday, September 21st from 8:00 a.m. to noon at both intersections, with an additional request for Saturday, October 5th

The request presented at Tuesday’s meeting was to amend their prior approval to include Friday, September 20th from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at both intersections and remove the October 5th date, upon approval of adding September 20th

Ward 4 Alderman John Drolet questioned the timeline for the amendment, stating a request for an amendment needed to occur the meeting following the approved request. In this case, Drolet believes the request should have been presented to the council at the February 4th meeting.

There appeared to be confusion over which dates the club was ultimately requesting, it was also unclear if the club was retaining the March date approved at the January 7th meeting. Current city ordinance states an applicant “shall be entitled to solicit a total of two non-consecutive weekends in any calendar year.” Approval of the March, September and October dates would not be compliant with city ordinance. 

The council ultimately voted to refer the item to committee to allow for further clarification on the specific needs of the club, the timeline of all their requests, as well as the legal formality of an amendment request. A concern was also raised by Aldermen Ned Drolet and Matthew Gilreath that the council would be setting an unwanted precedent by allowing continued amendment requests. 

In other council news:

  • Approval on first reading an ordinance amendment requested by the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners to allow the police officer eligibility list to have an option for a one-year expiration. State law for the testing cycle is a two-year eligibility, but the consortium that does the testing for O’Fallon is done annually. At the Public Safety committee meeting last week, Police Chief Eric Van Hook explained to committee members the current two-year eligibility list creates merging issues when applicants have tested in multiple years and the one-year eligibility will be stated at the beginning of testing. 
  • Approval on second reading the addition of a stop sign at Apple Street and First Street, and restricted parking on the east side of North Smiley Street from East Wesley to 200 feet north during the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. while the school is in session.
  • Approval on second reading of the addition of a property tax abatement incentive to the St. Clair County MidAmerica Enterprise Zone. The ordinance also includes the city’s voluntary participation in the abatement incentive. The amendment approval on Tuesday allows the application to proceed to the state for final approval to add the incentive to the enterprise zone. 

Council gives final approval to city’s newest carwash

During Monday’s City Council meeting, O’Fallon Police Chief Eric Van Hook and Sgt. Eric Buck, along with Mayor Herb Roach, presented Timothy and Tina Leadley with the Southern Illinois Law Enforcement Commission Civilian Award for their assistance in life-saving efforts with an accident that occurred on October 7, 2018 on Milburn School Road at Pausch Road with a very serious motorcycle accident. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Martha Stoffel)

By Martha Stoffel

O’FALLON – The O’Fallon City Council gave final approval Monday night for the city’s newest tunnel car wash, Rainstorm Car Wash, to be located at the corner of Frank Scott Parkway and Hartman Lane. 

The proposed development has received much discussion over the last month. The project was not recommended by the city’s planning commission on January 8, but was approved by the community development committee the following week to proceed to council.

Comments made during community development meetings have primarily focused on traffic concerns. The development will have a single entrance/exit located on Hartman Lane. The project was not given approval for an additional entrance/exit on Frank Scott Parkway. 

Traffic was again discussed during Monday’s council meeting, with Ward 4 Alderman John Drolet indicating he is fully supportive of business’s being able to develop a property in the manner they see fit, so long as it conforms to the city’s standards. “The problem is the city has an obligation to make sure that traffic flow that is a result of that property does not interfere with traffic on either Hartman Lane or Frank Scott Parkway, and this layout is just trying to squeeze something into an area that just doesn’t fit.” Drolet, along with Ward 5 Alderwoman Gwen Randolph voted against approving the preliminary plat for the project. Randolph did not indicate why she was opposed to the project. 

Randolph’s fellow Ward 5 Alderman, Chris Monroe, spoke in favor of the project reminding council that “they (Rainstorm) have bent over backwards to do everything we’ve asked them to do, they follow every ordinance. Traffic is not their problem, it’s the city and the county’s problem.”

In other council action:

• Approval of the preliminary plat, annexation agreement, amendment to the future land use map and zoning for the development and land known as Seven Hills Mixed Use Development. The mixed-use project is for approximately 27-acres that sits just north of Wesley Drive on the east side N. Seven Hills Road, and will consists of office, senior living and residential land uses. 

• Approval of the subdivision of land to be known as the Regency Park Medical Offices Minor Subdivision.

• Approval of the annexation of approximately 213.27 acres on the northwest quadrant of Shiloh Valley Township Line Road and Rieder Road.

• Approval of resolutions tied to the new investments approved recently by the investment committee with PMS Financial Network, Inc. and PMS Securities, Inc and the Declaration of Trust of the Illinois Trust. 

• Approval on first reading of the ordinance limiting parking on the east side of North Smiley Street north of Wesley Drive during the hours of 8:00am to 4:00pm when school is in session.

• Approval on first reading of the ordinance amendment that adds a property tax abatement incentive to the St. Clair County MidAmerica Enterprise Zone. The mayor indicated a public meeting with the District 90 and 203 school boards and superintendents will be held to discuss their voluntary participation in the property tax abatement incentives on February 12 at 5:00pm at OTHS.

Three appointed to empty Council seats

Mayor Herb Roach welcomed newly appointed Ward 1 Alderman John Distler, Ward 5 Alderman Christopher Monroe, and Ward 4 Alderman John Drolet (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Martha Stoffel)

By Martha Stoffel

O’FALLON – The O’Fallon City Council welcomed three new alderman to the dais Monday night. 

After the November election, the council lost three of its aldermen to St. Clair County positions. Former Ward 1 alderman Richie Meile and Ward 4 alderman Matthew Smallheer now serve on the St. Clair County Board, and Ward 5 alderman Andrew Lopinot is now the St. Clair County Treasurer.

Mayor Herb Roach made appointments for their replacements at Monday night’s meeting. Ward 1 will now be served by John Distler, Ward 4 by John Drolet and Ward 5 by Christopher Monroe. All three were approved unanimously by council. The term for the appointments will last until the first council meeting in May when the newly-elected aldermen from the April 2 consolidated election will take office. 

Ward 1 and Ward 4 have contested races in the April election, and the mayor had stated publicly he would appoint someone to these short-term appointments who is not running in April. Christopher Monroe is the only candidate for the 2-year term position for Ward 5 which is actually the unexpired remainder of former alderwoman Courtney Marsh’s original term.

The newly-appointed alderman did not have many action items on their first council agenda because of the previous weeks containing holidays. A zoning ordinance amendment for the Insight Office Park development, formally known as 1570 North Green Mount Road Office Park was approved on second reading Monday night. The development is located just east of Harley Davidson and south of Denny’s and Sonic. The office park will included six buildings of approximately 54,000 square feet. 

Council also approved three requests for fundraising roadblocks at the intersection of State and Lincoln. Ward 3 alderman Matthew Gilreath made a motion for an amendment to a request from the O’Fallon Kiwanis Club because their request included times on a Friday from 4:00 – 6:00pm. Gilreath has spoken against Friday evening roadblocks at previous council meetings, citing traffic and safety concerns when folks are trying to get home from work and after-school activities. The amended motion was approved by council, so their roadblock will be Saturday, March 16 from 8:00am – noon at the intersections of State & Smiley, as well as State & Lincoln. 

The VFW Post 805’s request for a roadblock on Saturday, April 27 from 8:00am – 4:00pm at the intersection of State & Lincoln was approved 11-3, with Aldermen Jerry Albrecht, Ned Drolet and John Drolet voting no.

The O.U.S.A.R.T. submitted a request for Friday, November 29 and Saturday, November 30 from 8:00am – noon at the intersection of State & Lincoln. No amendments were made for this request, despite the Friday date. It was also approved 11-3 with the same aldermen voting no. 

O’Fallon City Council holds final meeting of 2018

Mayor Roach and Alderman Bob Kueker presented the O’Fallon Masonic Lodge #576 with a proclamation in celebration of the lodge’s 150th anniversary of their founding in O’Fallon in 1868. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Martha Stoffel)

By Martha Stoffel

O’FALLON – The O’Fallon city council approved an agreement with Haier Plumbing & Heating, Inc for the State Street water and sewer rehabilitation project in the amount of $956,762.00. Five bids were received by the city, with Haier being the qualifying low bidder of the project. The project will install new water and sewer mains along State Street from Obernuefemann Road to the Public Works facility. 

A zoning ordinance amendment for the Insight Office Park development, formally known as 1570 North Green Mount Road Office Park was approved on first reading Monday night. The development is located just east of Harley Davidson and south of Denny’s and Sonic. The office park will included six buildings of approximately 54,000 square feet. 

An intergovernmental camera agreement between the City of O’Fallon and the O’Fallon School District #90 was also approved. The district recently added security cameras to their buildings as part of a school surveillance system. The district will purchase a monitor for installation in the communications dispatch room at the O’Fallon Police Department. The district will maintain the server for the cameras. The agreement also establishes protocol for releasing surveillance footage to the police department. 

Public Safety Director, Police Chief Eric Van Hook and Mayor Roach presented the new O’Fallon Fire Chief, Bradley White, to council and attendees Monday night. White has served on the O’Fallon Fire Department since 2006 and was one of 28 applicants for the position. He recently retired from the Department of Defense and has been named Firefighter of the Year three times. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Martha Stoffel)

In other news:

• Council approved the reappointment of Scott Battoe to the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners for three years.

• CityFest co-chairs Bob Kueker and Dan Witt presented checks to the public safety, public works and parks directors. The checks were the last payment for their services during the CityFest activities, but also included a donation from the committee based on extra funds following the event. 

• Council approved an annexation agreement for approximately 6.22 acres located at 10566 Rieder Road. 

• There will be no further council or committee meetings until Monday, January 7th. 

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. 

O’Fallon welcomes new officer, Nicholas Lee

Pictured from left: Police Commissioner Russell Thoman, Police Commissioner Scott Battoe, Police Commissioner Horace Humphries, Police Commissioner Gene McCoskey, Officer Nicholas Lee, Chief Eric Van Hook, and Mayor Herb Roach. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Martha Stoffel)

By Martha Stoffel

O’FALLON – During Monday evening’s City Council meeting, Police Chief Eric Van Hook introduced the city’s newest police officer, Nicholas Lee. Officer Lee comes to O’Fallon with three years experience as a St. Louis Metropolitan Police Officer and, most recently, one year as a special agent for the Illinois State Police MEGSI task force.

Officer Lee begins his field training immediately. With Officer Lee’s appointment, the O’Fallon Police Department now has 50 sworn officers, which is the most in the department’s history.

Council honors Fire Chief

(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Martha Stoffel)

By Martha Stoffel

Mayor Herb Roach issued a proclamation, read by Chief Eric VanHook, declaring the week of November 5th as Fire Chief Brent Saunders Week in the city of O’Fallon. The proclamation encourages all residents in O’Fallon to join Mayor Roach in acknowledging the important contribution and commitment Brent Saunders has made to the city of O’Fallon during his career for the citizens of O’Fallon. 

Chief Saunders has served as a member of the O’Fallon Fire Department for 35 years, and is one of only two members in the department’s 127 year history to serve in every position within the department. He became the first full-time chief in 2008 and announced his retirement October 26th. Deputy Chief Tim Claxton will serve as acting chief during the selection process for O’Fallon next Fire Chief.

City Council takes action on food trucks

By Martha Stoffel

O’FALLON – The City Council approved on first reading the amended ordinance regarding food trucks in O’Fallon at their meeting Monday night.  

A special event permit will be required for a food truck to operate in the city of O’Fallon. The council will review each event permit 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 food truck will also 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 ordinance was approved 10-1, Ward 2 Alderman Bob Kueker voted no and Kevin Hagarty, Mark Morton and Matt Smallheer were not in attendance.

O’Fallon Council receives update on five year Capital Improvement Plan

By Martha Stoffel

O’FALLON – The O’Fallon City Council received a presentation from city staff of the five-year Capital Improvements Plan (CIP) at Monday’s Committee of the Whole. 

The presented CIP is for the period of May 1, 2019 through April 30, 2024, fiscal years 2020 – 2024. Council receives a presentation and approves the CIP on an annual basis. Each city department includes 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 $66,596,423 worth of projects, with $25,607,823 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. 

Public works projects for FY2020 total $22,294,000. The largest project for public works is phase two of the waste water treatment plant at $9 million. There are several sewer projects projected for 2020 and watermain replacements for Mark Drive and phase two of the Southview Watermain replacement project. Phase four of the presidential streets stormwater remediation is planned for FY2020, as well as Holliday Drive drainage improvements. The pavement management program is planned at $1.755 million each year to repair and maintain city streets. 

Most of the public safety needs projected were for vehicle replacements. A third ambulance is planned for FY2020, with a replacement of the ladder fire truck in FY2023 and a fire engine replacement in FY2024. Patrol car replacement and other CID administration vehicle replacements for the police department are planned for each year. The largest item for public safety is slated under facilities, a new fire station to be constructed on the east end of town to meet response time and distance requirements with projected cost of $3 million. 

FY2020 parks and recreation projects presented included resurfacing of the north trail at the Sports Park, maintenance on the Illini bike trail and the Kyle Street bike trailhead. Landscaping and furnishing in two areas at the sports park are projected for FY2020, adding picnic tables and shade to the new fields #9 and #10 and retaining wall completion at the blue quad. Also for Sports Park fields #9 and #10, LED lights are projected to be added to extend the time those fields can be used. The blue quad of fields at the Sports Park are also planned to receive turf infields in FY2020, with the red quad planned for FY 2022. Hotel/motel tax or grants will be the fund source for many of the parks and recreation projects. 

The information technology department projected networking items, computer replacements and server updates. The largest project is for FY2024 when a phone system replacement will be needed. Other capital improvement projects presented included gateway signage at main entrances to the city, wayfinding/parking signage primarily downtown, code enforcement vehicle replacements and some facility & security upgrades at city buildings and parks. 

The Capital Improvements Plan will be discussed again at the November 12th Finance & Administration committee meeting. The full CIP packet is available on the city’s website, attached to the meeting agendas via Boarddocs. 

Correction from October 25th article regarding the 2018 tax levy. Current Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) projections have staff estimating the requested tax rate to be 0.9813, down from 0.9837 in 2017. If the final EAV comes back higher, the tax rate will be lower, and vice versa.

O’Fallon City Council welcomes new officer

Pictured from left: Police Commissioner Gene McCoskey, Police Commissioner Scott Battoe, Chief Eric Van Hook, Johnson, and Mayor Herb Roach.
(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Martha Stoffel)

By Martha Stoffel

O’FALLON – The newest O’Fallon police officer was presented to the City Council on Monday evening. 

Cody Johnston was sworn in prior to the meeting and will begin training next week. City Council approved the addition of three new police officers for this fiscal year, Johnston is the second hire since that approval. 

Council approves investment policy

By Martha Stoffel

O’FALLON – City Council approved the final, amended version of the city’s new investment policy Monday night that was approved by the Finance and Administration Committee last week. Discussions regarding the new policy have been ongoing since August. 

The new policy creates an advisory investment committee consisting of the Treasurer, Mayor, Director of Finance, City Administrator and the chair of the Finance & Administration Committee, as well as identifies the Director of Finance as the chief investment officer. 

The city will issue Requests for Proposals (RFPs) in the near future for banking/financial services and investing services. The update to the policy aligned it with state statutes and more clearly defined the investment policies and procedures of the city, something that is looked favorably by bond rating companies.

Council sends investment proposal back to committee amid questions

By Martha Stoffel

O’FALLON – The city’s updated investment policy is headed back to the Finance & Administration Committee one more time, after the Council decided a few, minor changes were still needed before a second reading. 

City staff was recommending an update to the policy to align it with state statutes and more clearly define the policies and procedures of the city’s investments. The city is planning to issue requests for proposals (RFPs) soon for banking/financial services and investing services, and it was recommended to update the policy to potentially get more favorable rates. 

Staff is also proposing RFPs to be reviewed by an advisory investment committee to make recommendations to the city council.

The motion to return the ordinance to committee was made by Alderman Matthew Gilreath, seconded by Alderman Jerry Albrecht and was approved by a vote of 11-2. Voting against the motion were Aldermen Rich Meile and Andrew Lopinot. Alderman Mark Morton was absent. 

Alderman Dan Witt, a member of the Finance Committee, stated he felt it would be a good idea to go back to the committee with “new suggestions from tonight, and give everybody a chance to read it (the policy) then bring it back.” 

The question was raised again as far as a timeline to get the new policy approved, and city staff indicated waiting an additional two weeks for the committee and city council meetings would not be an issue. A timeline because of CDs set to expire in December was noted at a previous meeting.

An amended policy will be reviewed and discussed at the next Finance & Administration Committee meeting, to be held Monday, September 24 at 7 p.m. at City Hall.