O'Fallon Progress

Shiloh board upset over ‘$10,000 mistake’ in offer price for easement

From left, Shiloh Trustees Mark Kurtz, Kurt Burrelsman and Colleen Powers.
From left, Shiloh Trustees Mark Kurtz, Kurt Burrelsman and Colleen Powers. rkirsch@bnd.

The Village of Shiloh convened for its committee meeting Monday, and made a unanimous vote to table Ameren Illinois’ latest offer for a 25-foot portion of easement property located along the entire north and south edge of Sierra Park.

The Village Board had approved granting Ameren the easement at its Monday, Dec. 5 meeting. The price for the power company was to be $17,150. But John Marquart, village administrator, found the error in the final documents, he said.

“A part of the (agreed upon) compensation was an amount of $17,150 for the largest component of the easement. However, when it came time to execute the documents, I pointed out to the representative of Ameren that the amount he had in the paperwork was not the aforementioned amount, but $7,150,” Marquart stated in a letter to the village mayor Jim Vernier and other village officials.

“I showed him the original offer to the village of $17,150. Needless to say, he made a mistake, and he went back to his superiors at Ameren and they said ‘Sorry, you made a mistake and we are only offering $7,150 plus they could add a little bit to it.’” Marquart said.

An Ameren representative admitted to the error, saying the company had mistakenly typed a “1” in front of what was supposed to be its offer — $7,150. However, the representative said the company had authorized up to $10,700, which it was willing to now pay.

The representative Ameren appointed to handle acquiring the easement is Bill Woods of Volkert Inc. In a letter to the board, Woods apologized for the mistake.

“When preparing my offer I made a typing error. I typed $17,150 in which it should have been $7,150. Unfortunately in speaking to management there is not a possibility of approving the $17,150. The most that I can offer is $10,700,” Woods’ letter said.

But Marquart advised the board that members were under no obligation to accept the lower offer and grant the easement.

“They’re trying to get all their easements. And with these types of electrical systems in place to go along with some federal rules and regulations that are coming down the pipe that will allow them to have more space (around the electrical lines),” Marquart said.

According Vernier, while it’s a good thing Marquart identified the gross error, the trustees should hold to their previous approval.

“Ameren’s always been very generous to us, but I’m sure they can’t offer us anymore, and it’s an unfortunate mistake that they made. If they do this for us, then they would be setting a precedent, and I don’t think they want to that,” Vernier said.

Trustees Kurt Burrelsman and Mark Kurtz voiced support of tabling the item until Marquart could get clarification from Ameren on whether or not the piece of property of interest is an easement or right-of-way — because they said there is a difference.

“It says ‘right-of-way easement’ on the original paperwork here,” Kurtz pointed out to the board Monday.

Kurtz said he thinks Marquart should ask for more than the revised offer of $10,700 before the board makes a final vote at a later meeting.

Burrelsman also pointed out that the size of the property, .23 acres, should be considered when approving an offer.

“A .23-acre (easement) is actually the equivalent to a lot. Don’t sound like much, but even a typical neighborhood with streets, green space and waterways and such — that’s a decent-sized lot. And, I know it’s not set up to be a lot, but still it’s the equivalent,” Burrelsman said.

“It’s still $10,000 for the village park fund,” Vernier said.

He also asked Marquart to find out if the existing shrubbery would remain if they accept a sale offer.

In other business:

▪ Following executive session, approval was granted to give Shiloh Police Assistant Chief Gary McGill, who is acting as interim chief, a $3,000 raise, bringing his annual salary to $86,000. Also, the board announced McGill will continue to serve as acting chief until after a new chief is hired. The board disclosed no new chief will be hired until after the April 2017 municipal election is over.

▪ Under the Administration and Personnel Committee, approval was given for cell tower modifications by adding more circuit splitters to enhance power and performance of existing antennas at 4129 Lebanon Ave., just east of Eden Park Boulevard. The village permit fee to be made is $529.

▪ A local government travel expense ordinance, which is required by state statue, was also approved. The law requires non-Home Rule communities, such as Shiloh, to establish regulations for travel, meal and lodging expenses by any local police officer, employee or elected official. The ordinance is in a format as recommended by the Illinois Municipal League.

Robyn L. Kirsch: 618-239-2690, @BND_RobynKirsch