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Village Vision News

Board splits eight times on special interest support

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A divided Board meant Mayor Hap Gilbert cast his vote to make the final decision on allocations to special interest groups from the hotel/motel tax revenue and the general fund. During votes on 13 different requests, the mayor needed to cast his vote eight different times to break a tie vote. Among the special interest groups asking for financial support, the highest request came from the Decatur Area Convention & Visitors Bureau with an ask of $90,000.

The requests were divided into two groups with eight requests in the hotel/motel tax funds category and six requests in the general fund category. Originally, The Children’s Museum of Illinois was listed in the latter category, but it subsequently withdrew its request, per museum executive board member and Village trustee Steve Hubbard.

Before voting began, trustee Bob Rasho delivered a prepared statement, commenting upon his belief of the need for limited government guided by public servants, not career politicians, and his opinion that taxpayers should decide the manner in which tax monies should be spent. Trustee Rasho pledged his personal commitment and fiduciary responsibility to both Forsyth taxpayers and taxpayers at large, to spend tax monies in a prudent manner.

As the following organizations were announced and votes cast, trustees Marilyn Johnson and Kerstin Trachtenberg joined Rasho four times in a “no” vote that required the mayor to break the tie. Funding amounts granted for each group include:

  • Futures-Charity Golf Tournament, $20,000
  • Decatur Celebration, $10,000
  • Decatur Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, $60,000 (had requested $90,000)
  • Rodney Miller Triathlon, $2,500*
  • Macon County Fair, $1,000*
  • Decatur Swim Club, $ 2,000*
  • Forsyth Sunrise Rotary Club, $2,000
  • American Heart Association’s Darrell Beck Memorial Heart Walk/Run, $300 (reduced from requested $1,000)*

An additional five requests came from organizations and schools seeking a repeat of past support paid from the Village’s general funds. Once again, trustees Johnson, Rasho and Trachtenberg cast “no” votes for four organizations. Recipients of funding and the amounts granted include:

  • Economic Development Corporation of Decatur Macon County (EDC), $17,550*
  • Decatur Park District (Special Recreation Association), $5,000
  • Decatur Macon County Crime Stoppers, $250 (reduced from requested $1,000)*
  • Maroa-Forsyth High School post prom, $1,200*
  • Warrensburg-Latham High School post prom, $250*

At the conclusion of the voting for all the special interest group requests, trustee Eric Morr offered a motion that would end Village funding for all post prom activities and make this year the final one for entertaining such requests. The motion passed 4-2 following “no” votes from trustees Hubbard and Reed.

Earlier in the meeting, Mayor Gilbert had suggested that funding for post-prom activities be offered to private schools St. Teresa, Lutheran School Association (LSA) and Decatur Christian School, each of which enrolls Forsyth students. A representative from LSA was in attendance and made a request for funding without specifying any particular amount. Trustees will take this request under advisement along with a new request from Millikin University to support its homecoming activities, fall family weekend and freshman orientation program with a $14,070 donation. Spokesperson Rich Dunsworth, the university’s vice president of enrollment, said these activities bring tax dollars to the Village with overnight stays at Forsyth’s hotels/motels and with students and their parents patronizing restaurants and retail establishments.

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