Area Update

St. Joseph grade school district cuts tax rate

ST. JOSEPH – Thanks to the county's new school sales tax, the property tax rate for The St. Joseph Community Consolidated School District will drop in the upcoming year, said Superintendent Todd Pence.

The grade school tax rate is decreasing from $2.76 to $2.56.

"The bottom line is from '09 to '10 the rate is going to drop 20 cents to 2.5667," Pence said.

For a $100,000 home with no exemptions assessed at one third of market value, the owner paid about $920 this year. With the new tax rate, the district would receive about $853 from the same house providing the assessment did not change.

Overall, the total property taxes extended or abated for 2009 were $3,046,519. The estimated total property tax to be levied for 2010 is $2,968,750. This represents a decrease of 2.6 percent.

Pence said the tax rate was reduced due to the abatement of half the bonds the district issued to build the middle school. The board had promised to abate half those bonds upon passage of the sales tax increase in April. The funds raised from the 1 percent sales tax increase are to be used to fund new facilities and remodeled school buildings within Champaign County.

"I've had several people ask me about the abatement, and it was nice to be able to tell them we're going to do what we said we were," Pence said.

The district expects to begin receiving money from the sales tax increase in April.

NORA MABERRY, The Leader

Wind farm regulations vote delayed

GIBSON CITY – City council members decided to table a planned vote on an amendment to the town's zoning ordinances that would provide guidelines for wind energy systems.

The vote was rescheduled to the council's Jan. 11 meeting.

Alderman John Carlson questioned whether a provision for a waiver of required tower setbacks from a street or road could occur without council approval. Alderman Dean Kidd believed another portion of the ordinance contained a significant typographical error.

City Attorney Marc Miller, whose office prepared the ordinance, was not present at the short meeting, but he will be contacted to review the concerns.

Mayor Dan Dickey said that overall, planning commission Chairman Mary Timm and her committee had done "a very good job" on the detailed plan.

In another matter, Dickey asked the media to clarify that action taken at the Dec. 14 council meeting did not extend the life of the downtown area's TIF 1; it will still expire on Thursday. He explained that the council's action was only to direct the city to collect the district's 2009 tax revenue when paid out next year by the county collector.

The council approved closing city hall offices on New Year's Eve. Employees taking time off will not be paid, however, unless they take personal leave or vacation time.

A planning commission meeting was rescheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 7 to consider annexation of land, specifically the proposed site near the city's industrial park that is expected to be the site of Eco Manufacturing's plasma gasification facility.

The council expects to take action at its Jan. 11 meeting on recommendations from the commission's meeting.

JEAN NOELLSCH, N-G Correspondent

PA system to improve at football field

ST. JOSEPH – The St. Joseph-Ogden High School board wants better sound at the school's football games.

The board voted to accept a bid from C.V. Lloyde, a sound company in Champaign, to upgrade the current sound system located on the football and track field.

The bid was for $11,000.

The Spartan Fan Club has agreed to pay $6,000.

Paul Duitsman, Les Hoveln, Peggi White, Jason Jefferson and Ginger Mohr voted in favor of the sound system.

Carla Reese voted no.

James Rein was absent.

Duitsman said the sound system would complete the remodel of the press box and bleachers on the football field.

"The bleachers and the press box look outstanding," he said. "It's the right thing to do to finish it the right way."

NORA MABERRY
See details in next week's Leader

Traffic device will flash drivers' speed

PAXTON – In an 18-hour period recently, 2,013 vehicles passed by Pells Park on Pells Street, and 413 were found to be driving faster than the 30-mph speed limit.

That means nearly a quarter of all vehicles using Pells Street were speeding that day.

Paxton police were able to monitor each vehicle's speed by setting up a radar-controlled speed detector – a portable device obtained through a $5,000 grant from State Farm Insurance in Bloomington.

Police Chief Bob Bane is using the speed-patrol trailer to determine where speeding is a problem. If a problem exists, police will be stationed on problem streets with radar guns so drivers can be ticketed.

Unless an officer is present, tickets are not issued to drivers who speed past the trailer, which shows their speed as they approach. But police hope it will at least make some drivers aware of the law.

"It's to help make drivers aware of their speed in certain areas, in school zones and things like that," Bane said. "We'll move it all over town. If someone's complaining about speeding in their neighborhood, we'll set it up there and look at traffic data (to determine if there is a problem)."

The battery-operated trailer has a computer built into it and can save the data it collects so Paxton police can review it.

"It shows how many cars pass, the highest speed, the lowest speed, what the percentage of speeders is, the times, the dates, all sorts of traffic data," Bane said.

Bane, who is often asked by the city council to conduct traffic-safety studies when a resident complains about traffic problems, said the new device should make that job easier.

Apparently, the trailer's presence alone sometimes is enough to deter speeders. "When I put it on Pells Street, I had someone looking out the window saying, 'Oh my god, everybody's braking,'" Bane said.

Bane applied for the grant, which fully funded the trailer, last January. "It's something we would have never been able to get if it wasn't for the grant, which was specifically for that item," Bane said. No other law-enforcement agency in Ford County has a speed-patrol trailer.

WILL BRUMLEVE, Paxton Recort, www.paxtonrecord.net

District needs books, bus communicators

THOMASBORO – Thomasboro Grade School needs new text books and communications equipment for school buses.

Superintendent Michelle Ramage said grades K-3 and sixth grade need a new series of reading textbooks.

The current reading series is 11 years old.

She recommended to the Thomasboro Grade School board that the district purchase a new series, Storytown, for $13,800. The Storytown series is also used for grades four and five.

Board members will study the recommendation.

The board learned a law signed Dec. 3 requires school buses to have specific communications capabilities with the school office.

The district's current bus cell phones do not meet the requirements of the bill. The district is researching phones to meet the requirements.

The board approved the final tax levy of 2.5662 per $100 equalized assessed valuation – up by .0988 from the 2.4674 rate of the previous year.

The levy will bring in an anticipated $591,624.

In other business, Ramage was appointed contact person for the Freedom of Information Act and Open Meetings Act.

RANTOUL PRESS

Topics (2):Education, Food
Categories (2):News, Other

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