Sullivan Schools Approve 6.73 Percent Levy Increase

January 7, 2015

Final figure to depend on actual EAV yet to be determined

by Keith Stewart
keith@newsprogress.com

The Sullivan school district approved their levy request last month and went with the higher of two levy increases that the board first made public in November.

At their December 18 truth in taxation hearing, which was attended by two members of the public, the board explained the need for the 6.73 percent levy increase request, citing in part the nearly $200,000 lost this year in state aid after the local property value raised considerably while student population fell. Superintendent Brad Tuttle also cited approximately $61,000 in tax money the board recently left on the table after last year’s levy request fell short of the full actual levy amount for which they could have asked.

“Even though we asked for 9.98 (percent levy increase) last year, it came in at 11.90. By us not asking for 11.90, we actually lost $61,000 that we could have recouped,” said Tuttle. “And if you look at the history of our school, we have not received the amount we could have received since 2002.” Read More

OV Schools Approve Nearly 9 Percent Levy Increase

December 31, 2014

Over $300,000 additional revenue requested

by Keith Stewart
keith@newsprogress.com

In this month’s board meeting, the Okaw Valley school district approved a levy that seeks more than $300,000 in new revenue.
After holding a truth in taxation hearing December 18, at which no objections were raised, the board formally approved the 8.81 percent increase in the levy using an estimated EAV of $81 million, up from the previous actual EAV of $73,966,393
The district tax rate comes to 4.5 percent, and results in an aggregate levy of $3,664,079, which is a $322,805.36 increase over the previous levy.
The estimated EAV of $81 million comes prior to the county assessor’s office’s actual EAV figure, which will be calculated within the upcoming months. Only then will the district have a concrete levy total. Read More

Bethany Awaits State Action on Police Cameras

December 24, 2014

Camera system estimated around $800

by Derek Pope
Bethany Reporter

At this month’s regular meeting, Bethany village council members decided to delay a vote on the implementation of police body cameras until it is clear whether the state of Illinois itself will act on new legislation concerning them.

Since October, lawmakers have been actively engaged in creating legislation that would govern police use of body cameras, citing an Illinois Supreme Court ruling earlier this year that struck down the state’s current “eavesdropping” law as one of the major hurdles in drafting such legislation. On December 15, however, a new bill that would close the gaps in policy introduced by the Supreme Court’s ruling was sent to the desk of the Governor. Should the bill be approved, lawmakers would presumably resume discussions on police cameras when they return to session January 13 of next year. Read More

Semi-trucks Reminded of Restrictions on Parking in Village Limits

December 17, 2014

Ordinance says vehicles over 3/4 ton unable to park in village limits for more than 30 minutes

by Florence Hallford
& Keith Stewart
keith@newsprogress.com

The topic of semi-truck parking has been an on-going discussion since a resident asked permission to park his truck over a sidewalk several months ago.

The board members have been looking into solutions since, unable to find a suitable one. During his research, village president Jim Minor located an ordinance that prevents owners of vehicles in excess of ¾ ton from parking in most of the village limits for more than half an hour.

While the board members identified with residents on the issue, there is not much they can do about it, noting that the resident needs to find suitable parking. However, trustee Roger Walker became concerned, stating that many residents drive regular trucks that weigh close to, if aren’t at the weight limit of the truck size the ordinance includes that need special parking. Read More

ALAH Schools Go Ahead with Levy Increase

December 17, 2014

With over $10,000 increase in property value, levy up nearly 8 percent

by Ariana Cherry
Arthur/Sullivan Reporter

After holding a truth and taxation hearing, Arthur-Lovington/Atwood Hammond school board members approved the tax levy for the tax year 2014 payable 2015.

This year’s EAV was estimated at $193, 490,228 while last year’s total was $183,286,949. An increase of 7.98 percent was passed by the board. So far, the district has not received its incentive money from the state, and Schwengel noted that it is possible that they may receive only three out of four payments. The present total of all funds in the district’s accounts is $6,965,024.74. A resolution abating the tax levied for the year 2014 to pay debt service on General Obligation School Bonds (an alternative revenue source) was also passed. Read More

Sullivan Employees See Bonus Increase

December 17, 2014

Extra $25 added on

by Ariana Cherry
Arthur/Sullivan Reporter

A discussion was held at this month’s first city council meeting whether or not to increase the Christmas bonus for city of Sullivan employees.

Since about 1999, employees have been given $75. Health and safety commissioner Bill Hagen motioned that it be increased to $100, explaining that $75 doesn’t go quite as far today as it did in the 90’s. Public property manager Mike Kirk seconded the motion, and the council agreed to raise the Christmas bonus to $100.

A TIFF participation loan of $680,000 (including full project fees) was also approved for the Red Apple.

About $250,000 will be financed by First Mid Illinois Bank in an eight year balloon payment. Sullivan has received $700,000 in TIFF funds, but they must be used for TIFF purposes only. All funds must be used by 2022, or they will be returned to their original source. Read More

Sullivan School District Introduces iSullivan

December 10, 2014

Submitted by the
Sullivan School District

The Sullivan school district will be holding a series of public meetings beginning next week to discuss iSullivan, the district’s 1:1 digital device learning initiative.
School districts have witnessed a major shift in the role technology plays in instruction. Instead of students having access to technology only when the school’s computer lab is available, more school districts are providing access to students as needed. Sullivan School District has been working on a plan to give students this daily access. Money was awarded to the district through a combination of grants from the Sullivan Community Education Foundation and the federal government. With that funding in place, the implementation of iSullivan began. Staff members began working together to create a vision for students’ futures. The district feels that in  order to prepare students for a technology enriched world, it needs to give them the tools to experience a technology enriched education. Read More

City Finances Reported as Solvent for Previous Fiscal Year

December 3, 2014

Annual audit shows city finances reported accurately

by Barry Featheringill
Sullivan Reporter

Sullivan’s annual audit was presented at last month’s later city council meeting, and it signaled a comfortable financial situation.

The type of opinion issued by West & Co was an ‘unqualified opinion,’ which means the numbers presented to West & Co. and to the public April 30, 2014 were done so fairly and in accordance with most general accounting principles. It is the highest opinion an auditor may make on financial reports.

“The overall financial condition of the city is solvent as of April 30, 2014,” added Russell. “It is healthy and stable as it was last year.” Read More

Kiwanis Reforming in Sullivan

November 26, 2014

After a few years, international outreach organization makes a local comeback

by Keith Stewart
keith@newsprogress.com

After dissolving a couple years ago, the Sullivan Kiwanis is reforming.
Starting at the end of September, meetings began being held in an effort to recruit a strong nucleus of local members and to begin molding the group’s focus based on local needs.
“Meetings are set up now, but that will likely change as the club reaches charter strength,” said Jim Dooley, the 2014-2015 Kiwanis Governor for the Illinois and Eastern Iowa district. “I have a strong belief that with Kiwanis local members need to determine what the rules are and what the needs are of the community.” Read More

Okaw Valley School Report Card Shows Gains and Declines

November 26, 2014

Test results still shaky as state moves towards common core

by Derek Pope
Bethany Reporter

This month Okaw Valley School District’s annual school report card has been made available by the state’s board of education at www.illinoisreportcard.com. The school report card, which is released at roughly the same time every year, is a metric that gauges student academic growth from year to year based on state standardized testing. In addition to this, the school report card also provides useful data to the public such as graduation rates, attendance rates, and even data such as the school district’s racial makeup. The school report card is designed to be a valuable tool internally within school districts for making academic and instructional improvements to school environments, as well as for the public, which may include families considering moving to the area or parents concerned about their children’s education.
The results of this year’s school report card, much as last year’s, are mixed for Okaw Valley—containing examples of both improvements and declines in academic growth. Read More