O'Fallon Progress

Ameren rectifies ‘$10,000 mistake’ in offer for Shiloh easement

Ameren Illinois has decided to make good on its original offer to the village of Shiloh for an easement along Sierra Park.

The Shiloh Village Board accepted the offer during its meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 3 that rectified a previous “$10,000 mistake” by the power company.

“Thankfully, the newspaper — I don’t know which one — did a story on it, and one of the executives from Ameren didn’t like that story. So he came and got with us, and I was appreciative and said, ‘Thank you very much.’ And he said, ‘If you thought that was the offer, then that was the offer,’” Shiloh Mayor Jim Vernier said.

The Progress reported on the “mistake” last month, in which Ameren Illinois originally offered $17,150 for the 25-foot easement.

The Village Board approved granting Ameren the easement at its Monday, Dec. 5 meeting. However, in reviewing the final documents, Village Administrator John Marquart found that the amount listed did not match the company’s original offer; it was off by $10,000.

The Ameren representative handling the easement acquisition, said there had been a typo in the company’s original offer and apologized in a letter to the board.

“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,” Bill Woods of Volkert Inc., Ameren’s representative, said in the letter.

Woods went on to say the most Ameren could offer for the easement was $10,700, but the Village Board balked at accepting that offer.

Marquart said the change of heart was a consequence of the reporting the matter, which led to senior Ameren staff agreeing to “honor the original offer of $17,150.”

Marquart advised the board that members where under no obligation to accept the new offer and grant the easement, but it would be in the village’s best interest, since Ameren was offering more.

“This is a positive ending for all concerned and continues the excellent relationship the village and Ameren have,” Marquart stated in a letter to the board, dated Wednesday, Dec. 28.

Other Business

Limits set on expense reimbursements

The board approved setting new maximums for reimbursement for meals, travel and lodging costs incurred while conducting village business. The new rules apply to employees as well as elected officials.

For travel by car, the maximum is for all miles. If by another mode of transportation, such as flight or train, $400 for a round trip will be reimbursed to village officials or staff. The reimbursement maximum for daily meals is capped at $75. The daily lodging maximum has been set at $350, which is inclusive of all taxes, parking and other services.

The reason for the ordinance is new state law. Towns that are not home-rule communities are now required by the Illinois General Assembly to update expense reimbursements.

The new ordinance was first presented to the board on Monday, Dec. 19, but was held, pending the potential of use IRS per diem rates for meals, travel and lodging, as opposed to setting maximum limits for the reimbursement.

“I have discussed this situation with Brenda (Kern, village clerk), the auditor and the Illinois Municipal League, and in our opinion, the use of maximums is cleaner, easier to manage and covers the requirements of the statute,” Marquart said.

Interim police chief gets temporary raise

Shiloh Assistant Police Chief Gary McGill has been serving as interim chief since Jim Stover retired last month.

The board approved at it’s Dec. 19 meeting, and again Tuesday, Jan. 3, to increase McGill’s pay the same hourly rate that Stover was making when he left. So, while McGill is acting as interim chief, he will make $42.63 per hour ($88,670.40 annually). Previously, McGill was earning $39.97 per hour ($83,137.60 annually).

“It has been bumped (up)… The rate will go back to his previous pay when the new chief is hired,” Kern said.

While McGill said he would like to take over the role of police chief, he said it’s not what is in the best interest of the community that is growing fast.

“I’m close to retirement. So sometime in the next 18 months, around June 2018, I will be leaving the department. It would be great for my pocketbook to retire on a chief’s salary, but that’s not the right thing to do,” McGill said.

Over the next 10 years, the village will be building a new police station and possibly growing a joint use department that will house the police and village hall in one location.

“We need someone who is going to be here through the new design of the police station and expansion. I swore 30 years ago that I would always do what’s best for the village and its residents, so I think it’s best to step down and let someone in who will be here over the next 10 years or more,” McGill said.

The board also approved not to pursue hiring a new chief until after the April 2017 municipal election is over.

Cell tower to be modified

The board approved issuing a cell tower modification permit for the tower at 4129 Lebanon Ave.

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