Construction on the Schram City Dollar General will begin next month, residents learned during the village board meeting held Monday evening, July 8.
"We're going to have a brand new Dollar General out here in Schram City," President Albert Oberle said as the board and public body applauded.
The village of Schram City started negotiations and submitted a proposal in December 2018 to the developer, Glenwood Equities LLC, along with Westmore Group Construction, both based out of Chesterfield, MO.
The new 9,000 sq. ft. storefront will be located across from the village hall, a property currently owned by Livingston Pipe and Tube. According to Oberle, the land will be secured by the end of July.
Once permission to allow an entrance off the highway is granted by IDOT, construction on the building will begin in August.
"The building will be up, shelving will be in, they will have a 20 to 30 year lease signed with Dollar General and the business will be open hopefully the week before Thanksgiving," said Oberle. "Everything has really progressed."
When Oberle first received word of the new business, he said the building wasn't scheduled to be finished until March 2020.
As part of the construction, the developer and construction company requested that a sewer line be installed. Oberle said he met with the Fayco board and they agreed to allow an easement to run a line from the back part of the Fayco building, which will be a joint venture between the village and Bondurant Plumbing of Hillsboro. Members of the board passed the resolution to authorize the execution of a sewer extension agreement with Glenwood Equities LLC.
"Tonight is going to be another historic night for the village," said Oberle, just before Kyle Putnam with Patton and Company, PC presented the annual audit report. "Hopefully we're going to pass our second million dollar budget."
When he took oath in 2013, Oberle said he planned to be a one-term president and if the board couldn't shift the village in the right direction after three years, they would work on annexing to Hillsboro.
"We were able to turn things around and make a lot of changes," he said. "The future is bright for the village."
Putnam encouraged the board to keep a long-range vision and commended them for meeting unexpected expenditures and other challenges they're faced with as a small community.
A three-year comparison shows significant increase in the village’s general fund balance — in 2017, the fund balance was $81,000 and it currently totals $159,000.
“That speaks volumes because it is a challenge to add to that bottom line,” said Putnam as they reviewed the audit. “And you’ve done that consistently over the last three years.”
The audit would also show a reduction in expenditures. Revenues remain steady, with a slight increase in some areas, especially in gaming. Oberle said that Dollar General will help drive revenue up. However, the village will find a loss in water and sewer. Putnam said it’s important to take into account depreciation each year on equipment, vehicles and such, and without depreciation, it would show a profit.
“These losses are minimal so the important thing is your debt is low,” she said. “You have a little flexibility to make those improvements that you need to make.”
She noted the new taxes implemented July 1, such as the increased gas, sales and cigarette taxes, along with the electronic communication device law change, will increase revenue. The village benefits greatly from the gaming tax, and thanks to the new law which allows establishments an extra machine as well as sports betting, it will steadily increase.
Putnam said of the surrounding counties, Montgomery County has the highest unemployment rate of 4.3 percent, following closely behind Macon with a 4.5 percent rate. Grants become more difficult to obtain and the biggest challenges smaller villages are faced with are water and sewer systems and infrastructure. With the MTF tax, Putnam said the village should expect more funding for streets. However, she encouraged them to keep the streets in working condition as those funds may take a few years to receive, if they’re ever dispensed.
“As Putnam said, the only debt is basically $23,000 in our water payback from the 2002 project,” said Oberle. “That’s an accomplishment.”
In May 2013, the village had less than $10,000 in its general fund and $6,700 in its sewer fund. Oberle said six years ago they were faced with $75,000 in sewer debt and now, it has all been paid back.
“We’ve accomplished a lot, but we still have a lot to accomplish yet,” said Oberle.
Following the audit report, a resolution to pass a $1,155,500 budget was passed with Trustee Jerry Woods making a motion and Trustee Earl Eller seconding.
During the Community Development Block Grant update, Oberle said the village is progressing with paperwork as they apply to help fund improvements to the sanitary sewer system by replacing lift stations. He reported that the bidding process is approaching and how the village is on track to hopefully complete the project this year.
In other grant news, the board was presented with information regarding the IEPA project plan proposal for the Schram City water main replacement phase I and phase II, as well as maps of the lines needing replaced. The first phase includes 56-year-old lines from Schram City to the Kortkamp addition, and construction could begin next year and be completed by 2021. Eller asked about payments and Oberle reported that phase I would cost the village $3,481 per month for 20 years.
“That is if there was no forgiveness,” said Oberle. “If we did 1 percent with 75 percent principle forgiveness, we would pay $786.04 per month.”
The second phase would then be scheduled to begin in 2022 and be finished by 2023. In its entirety, the project will cost $1,486,420 with a 20-year loan plan.
Oberle said a few months ago, the board received hydrant testing flow rates from 2016, 2017 and 2018, and found a dramatic change. Once Brown and Roberts' engineers prepare and submit the application and it is reviewed, the board can make a final decision. The board president has sought out ways to drive the cost down without increasing rates, and said utilizing half the gaming tax ($15,000) would help lower rates.
Eller and Rhoades expressed their concerns with a fee for application preparation with Oberle stating he did not know the exact cost. Rhoades asked if Brown and Roberts have contracted work locally, and Oberle confirmed, saying they come highly recommended.
“If we decide to go further, I will ask Jim (of Brown and Roberts) to come talk to everybody,” said Oberle.
Discussion was then opened to the public, when Butch Groves inquired about the size of piping. Oberle said the plastic piping is eight inches. Bill Wright then asked if the village had provisions to include rural areas. The board president said they are discussing rural lines, so that back-up lines would be available in the event Hillsboro shut down.
Eller shared concerns about the project not solving the existing sewer problems. “It is my understanding that if we want to know, then we need to do this or we won’t know anything,” he said.
A resolution to execute an agreement with Brown and Roberts to prepare and submit the application to the IEPA was passed.
“Thank you, Albert, for all your work,” said Rhoades.
In street and alleyway news, Oberle said the village workers are finishing patchwork in the Kortkamp area and will soon move on to the rest of Schram City. He also mentioned a $1,800 bid submitted by Young’s Tree Service to remove two trees near Munchler Lift Station. Rhoades addressed several derelict vehicles and Eller reported burning in alleyways.
Oberle and Trustee Kelvin Stewart attended a mayor’s meeting June 19, where several matters were addressed. Oberle made a special note regarding the county recycling center, saying the county may charge municipalities to continue recycling services.
While garbage trucks continue to go down alleyways, the village will look into something similar to that of Donnellson’s, who requested bids and secured one trash company. He said the fee would ultimately be lowered and included in the water and sewer bill.
Caleb Payne and Ken Grinolds, co-owners of The Kut Above Lawn Services, LLC of Schram City, were on hand to present before the board a mowing bid of “$9,000 per year, plus free stripes.” Oberle told the businessmen the board will discuss the bid further and contact them.
A public hearing will precede next month’s meeting at 5:45 p.m. Monday, Aug. 12, at the city hall. The public is encouraged to attend.