Metro-East News

St. Clair Township to hold meeting on road district budget

St. Clair Township Highway Commissioner John “Skip” Kernan speaks before the start of the township budget hearing on March 22.
St. Clair Township Highway Commissioner John “Skip” Kernan speaks before the start of the township budget hearing on March 22. News-Democrat file photo

Registered voters are set to have an opportunity to weigh-in on whether the St. Clair Township Road District has enough money allocated to have five employees.

A special St. Clair Township meeting is scheduled for Monday, and those in attendance will get to vote on whether more money should be allocated to pay road district employees.

The meeting will be ran like the annual meeting, where a moderator is elected, and votes on items will include all the legal voters who live in the township in attendance, rather than just the elected township board members and supervisor.

Brenda Reed, the township clerk, said she expected voting to be handled by a show of hands.

When people attend the meeting, Highway Commissioner Skip Kernan said they will have to check in to ensure they are a registered voter in St. Clair Township. Those who are will have their hands stamped and will be asked to sit on one side of the school gym. Those who are not registered voters in the township will be asked to sit on the other side of the gym.

A vote also is planned on whether money should be transferred to the road district to pay for up to five employees for the 2016-17 fiscal year, which began April 1.

Kernan, and most trustees have been at odds over how many employees the road district should have.

Kernan has argued for five employees, but trustees have only allocated enough money for 3.5 employees, according to Kernan.

During the 2015-16 fiscal year, trustees allocated enough money to pay for four employees. Kernan, however, had five employees, and the line item for wages ran out in March. All of the road district employees were laid off until the beginning of the next fiscal year.

Kernan attempted to have unspent road construction money transferred into the wages line item, but trustees wouldn’t allow the move.

Kernan said in an interview that he was confident people in attendance would vote in favor of transferring money for road district employee wages.

He said he and his supporters have been working to get the word out about the meeting.

“I ran to restore services that were taken away (from) taxpayers,” Kernan said.

Kernan has said it would take $139 million to bring needed repairs to township roads. But with a $1.5 million budget a year, he said he is opting for proactive actions to keep roads useable.

St. Clair Township Supervisor Dave Barnes said he won’t be attending Monday’s meeting.

“I think what Mr. Kernan needs to do is learn how to live within his budget,” Barnes said.

He added whatever is decided at the meeting, the action will have to be taken to the board for its consideration.

Barnes said the only way money can be transferred is if the board declares there is a surplus.

Documents show the township is planning deficits in its park, sanitary sewer and general town funds.

“We very well could be spending more than what we bring in if all projects go accordingly,” Barnes said.

Barnes said there isn’t a budget surplus, but said there are reserves for large unplanned expenses such as the need for upgrades at the sewer plant.

“They could recommend they move the money, but the board has to first say we have a surplus,” said Barnes, citing a handbook for township officials in Illinois.

Joseph Bustos: 618-239-2451, @JoeBReporter

To attend

  • What: St. Clair Township, Special Town Meeting
  • When: 7 p.m. Monday
  • Where: Whiteside Middle School at 111 Warrior Way, Belleville