The Shiloh Board of Trustees remains divided on how to move forward with the dilapidated, village-owned Red Barn that sits at the end of Country Lane.
Shiloh Mayor Jim Vernier announced Monday, Feb. 6 during the village board meeting that two items passed in a prior Finance and Budget Committee meeting — setting a maximum bid expenditure and OKing financing for the project — will be sent back to committee.
Vernier had to break at 3-3 tie during the Jan. 23 meeting to push the project out of committee. Trustees Colleen Powers, Tina Warchol and Kurt Burrelsman approved the measures to move forward with the project. Trustees Mark Kurtz, Greg O’Neil and Bob Weilmuenster voted in opposition, and Vernier broke the tie. So, where the project now stands is up in the air.
Shiloh purchased the Red Barn, located at 2400 Country Lane, on Oct. 8, 2009 for $185,000. Built in 1984, the 8.3-acre vacant property housed a string of restaurants for years. Currently, it is in a poor shape with extensive roof, mold and interior issues from water damage and neglect.
The idea has been to restore the building for a new Cultural Arts Center, which would serve as a regional attraction. But Vernier said that further investigation is needed to see what course of action would be best, restoring the existing structure or tearing the barn down and starting from scratch.
Village Administrator John Marquart previously said that the village qualified for a tax-exempt note on a loan with Commerce Bank for $400,000 to finance the initial improvements. However, at the Jan. 23 committee meeting, trustees voted for a self-imposed limit of $300,000 for the project.
School superintendent updates board
Shiloh School District 85 Superintendent Dale Sauer gave a power-point presentation to the board Monday, Feb. 6, which he does annually.
“I truly believe we are community partners together in serving our community, so I like to keep you abreast of things and like to attend your meetings, too, to hear what’s going on here, so we can help each other where we can,” Sauer said.
Sauer spoke of challenges the district faces, such as the loss of about $1.3 million in general state aid in the last eight years due to prorating of payment.
“We have significant challenges, most of them are financial ... We have funds that have been allocated and approved, but have not been sent to us. We haven’t received any funds from what we call as ‘categoricals,’ (including) early childhood and transportation, all school year. They say they’re coming, but we haven’t seen them, which is not much different that some of the things you face with the state yourselves, just different business,” Sauer reported.
No state budget, Sauer said, makes things “difficult.”
“Our property owners do their share. They pay their taxes and support our school. We have little commercial business to offset that,” he said.
The village recently gave the green light for Three Springs at Shiloh to close on a sale of 133-acre multi-use commercial development to Shiloh One LLC, a.k.a. Dierbergs Markets Inc., which Vernier said will help the school district tremendously over the next several years.
Sauer noted the district has been, “heavily affected” by the recently passed Disabled Property Tax exemption, and yet “Shiloh schools continue to offer a great education.”
Shiloh will lose 8.5 percent of its tax base (EAV) this next year. That equates to a loss to the school district of $287,000 with the way this law was implemented, he said.
“We have critically dwindled fund balances. We are of very dire straits to the point where we have done cost containment and reduction of staff of almost 12 percent the last two years,” Sauer said.
Mascoutah and O’Fallon school districts are also impacted, according to Sauer.
“It’s a good law, but the implementation is poor,” he added.
Sauer said, he was “in favor of veterans receiving all the benefits they can, as they have surely paid the price for that privilege.”
But he was asking legislators to change how the legislation is implemented.
“Shiloh is disproportionately affected because of our proximity to SAFB, and our community is a desirable place to retire. This legislation was enacted to assist our disabled veterans,” he said. “In reality, it hurts them by disproportionately harming the communities in which they reside. We are all beneficiaries of the sacrifices made by our disabled veterans. So in my opinion, all citizens should share equally in supporting the cost of their property tax exemption rather than only those taxpayers in military communities.”
Sauer also informed the village board of the many repairs and replacements of apparatus, equipment, floors, windows, lighting and other systems that need attention.
There are more than 600 students in District 85. Shiloh Elementary has early childhood students through fourth-graders at 125 Diamond Court, while Shiloh Middle School is for fifth- through eighth-graders at 1 Wildcat Cross.
Three Springs Lake Trail additional design needed
The board approved undertaking the additional stormwater design for the Three Spring Trail project. The board authorized Horner & Shifrin to handle the extra storm water design for no more than $12,000.
The project has been in the works since last fall.
Yorktown lawn care news
The board authorized design for a new equipment building at the village-owned Yorktown Golf Course at 300 Caballeros Blvd. Design engineering is not to exceed $11,880.
Trustee Kurtz was the sole opposing vote. The current building used to house the lawn care equipment is in disrepair and not large enough to accommodate additional equipment, according to John Marquart, village administrator.
The board also OK’d mowing contracts for the next three years.
Safe Routes to School project approved
The board passed items regarding the O’Fallon Central School “Safe Routes to School” project.
Safe Routes to School, which is administered by the Illinois Department of Transportation, is a program to enable and encourage children, including those with disabilities, to walk and bicycle to school.
Included in the items passed by the village were a maintenance agreement, which O’Fallon School District 104 will be quarterbacking, and construction engineering agreement in the amount of $27,746.90.
“This a nice project and comes at no expense to the village,” Vernier said.
Phase II Seibert Road trails underway
The board authorized Mayor Vernier to sign the design engineering agreement for phase two of the Seibert Road trails, which has been in the works for more than three years. Vernier said the trail will go from Diamond Court down to Johnson Road.