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Village Vision News

Board votes to pursue state grant for library work

Thursday, November 29, 2012

After expressing opposing views about applying for a grant from a state in dire financial straits, trustees split in voting, and the mayor cast the deciding vote to pursue a grant for needed repairs to Forsyth Public Library. Successful application for the $200,000 state grant from the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) would eliminate the need to use the Village’s reserve funds to fix a structural problem recently discovered at the Library.

State Rep. Bill Mitchell (R-Forsyth), as a member of the general assembly, has offered his assistance in pursuing the grant, which helps local governments with improvements to the overall quality of life in Illinois. Upgrades to public buildings are among those improvements.

Library Director Rachel Miller said the $140,000 in projected costs to repair the library floor to meet load specifications required for a library also include the reconfiguration and moving of books. The balance of the awarded grant money would be used for other upgrades to the building, including window replacement.

In answer to a question from trustee Larry Reed, who wondered how the state would pay for the project, Miller said Rep. Mitchell indicated 25 percent of the amount would come when the project begins, with more to be distributed as the project progresses. Miller will prepare and compile the 18-page grant application in consultation with Village Administrator Mike Miller.

The state of Illinois website currently shows 193 active grants during 2013, according to Mike Miller, who said the Village is not alone in seeking such funds. The grants are a small part of the overall state budget.

“With the library being one of the most important quality of life assets for our residents, we feel this is a worthwhile project to pursue,” he commented.

Not all trustees agreed with him. Trustees Eric Morr, Bob Rasho and Kerstin Trachtenberg opposed pursuing the grant. Both Morr and Rasho questioned accepting money from a state government that is nearly bankrupt. Morr said he appreciated the staff’s effort to avoid using Village reserves for the library project, but felt the Board should have shown some leadership and declined.

“This frustrates me,” Morr said. “At some point, we have to stop taking from the state and try to let them heal financially.”

Rasho cited Rep. Mitchell’s past involvement with the Village involving a grant directed to an unsuccessful senior center project and said the Board should make decisions on principles instead of following politicians’ aspirations.

Trustees Steve Hubbard, Marilyn Johnson and Reed supported pursuing the grant, as did Mayor Hap Gilbert who broke the tie vote. Taxpayers were priorities for both Hubbard and Johnson.

“I don’t agree with the system … I don’t agree with waste…[but] I feel like we have an obligation to accept this [ grant] money to help taxpayers in this Village,” Johnson said.

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