Atwood Village Finance Chairman Urges Board to Curtail Spending

By Doris Elmore
Staff Writer

Heather O’Connor, Chr. of Finance for the Village of Atwood, voiced her concern over spending at the regular meeting of the board on Monday, Oct. 12.

Kevin Buckley of McGuire, Yuhas, Huffman & Buckley was present to discuss the annual financial report.

A lengthy discussion on the budget was prompted by O’Connor. Heather stated that she is deeply troubled with spending and money as a whole. She discussed where the different departments are over their budget and they should be keeping a closer eye on spending. She told the board they should be aware they cannot do everything in one year and the spending is “out of hand.”

Heather does understand there are places where they need to spend money. Trucks and other equipment do wear out, but as she stated above, the board needs to take a closer look at spending and get their priorities in order on what to purchase. Heather stated the board needs to curtail spending for the next four years.

She pointed out that the village still owes on the Main Street Project until 2027. The annual payment for this loan is $36,862.25. That leaves a sizeable amount to be paid.

Heather also pointed out that the village is paying $4,000 a year for three years on a website that is not being used. It was set up by former village president Brodie Farrar on June 4, 2019 and two years have already been paid. She would like the village clerk to contact the company to see if the contract can be terminated. Saving another $4,000 would benefit the village. Heather said that Jamie Simpson had offered to set up a website free of charge.

Ronnie Wallace stated that the board needed to operate on the approved budget.

Heather stated that she just wants the board to be aware that they need to watch closely on any future spending. It is an “Early Red Flag” so to speak to be cautious with money.

The board approved expenditures totaling $84,882.35.

Ryan Staley of Farnsworth Group was in attendance regarding the Main Street Sidewalk Extension to Dollar General. The board recently approved the spending of $6,500 to pay Farnsworth to apply for a Federal Grant to help with this project.

Staley gave board members a project cost estimate on the project. The estimated total cost of the project is $854,100. The Federal share would be $632,000 and the village match would be $222,100. The work would be done in phases. Phase I & II is Design Engineering; Phase III Engineering & Layout. This is a huge undertaking by the village to provide a sidewalk to Dollar General. Staley said it could take from 6 months to a year for approval of Phase I.

The board passed a motion to commit up to $225,000 which is available and unencumbered to be used as a match to an ITEP Grant for the project. This would be paid in gradual payments over the next four years. This resolution further authorizes the submission of a grant application to the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program, here after referred to as ITEP, for the balance of the project funding.

The Village President is the chief elected official for the Village of Atwood to act as the authorized representative to sign all necessary documents for the submittal and execution of the grant application to ITEP. The vote was as follows: Allen Kilber-yes; Scott Harris-yes; Haley Ely-yes; Chris Stoltz-no; Ronnie Wallace-yes; Heather O’Connor-yes.

The board was required to pass this resolution in order for Farnsworth to submit for the grant. Without the commitment of the board for their part of the project, they could not continue to apply for the Federal grant.

If the village is not approved for the Federal grant then the commitment of $225,000 will be null and void. However, the village will still be out the $6,500 for the preparation work Farnsworth did for the grant.

The board tabled their decision to reinstate the zoning board until the wording of a new ordinance is in place. Attorney Ken Crossman recommended they have only five members on this board instead of seven.

The next meeting of the board will be held on Monday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m.

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