DUANE POTTER --TOWNSHIP SUPERVISOR
What is the state of Decatur Township? Not good! The State of Illinois stopped funding our General Assistance and Earn Fare programs as of June 30, 2011. This was a welfare-to-work program that we initiated for Decatur Township when I was Supervisor in the early 90’s. The state was subsidizing the General Assistance program for the township to the tune of 1.5 million a year. They were paying union wages to the workers in the program, they were paying part of our building costs, and they were paying our medical providers that were taking care of our indigent. Suddenly the state not only withdrew their money for the future program, but also failed to pay what they owed us and our medical providers for services we provided before 6-30-2011, the date they stopped. We are still attempting to collect the $484,000 they still owe us.
Should the program have continued? Perhaps not. It had gotten too expensive for the benefits provided – but -- losing the state reimbursement is giving the township really big financial problems. The laws are still in place mandating that the township give a monthly check to those who show need and also that we pay their medical bills. So – the Township Board has had to shuffle things around and do what we can. We had to lay off four employees, because there is no program for them to operate and no money to pay them. We now must take care of our mandate with three employees and their Union contract that expired July 1, 2012, and which the Township must now negotiate.
Fortunately, the Town board last year agreed to lease the upper part of our big building. The Lutheran Child and Family Services is a wonderful fit for our building and the township is comfortable on the lower level. The lease money allows us to maintain the building, pay our utilities and replace the money the state formerly paid us in rent. Many thanks to the people who came to our special meeting and voted to allow us to lease the building. Without the Lutherans’ rent, we would have been forced to raise taxes dramatically.
We have jiggled and juggled the budget, cut here and cut there, and we have managed to stay afloat. The state has agreed to reimburse us the money owed to us as of June 30, 2011. But we have not received reimbursement yet. If by some miracle, the state should pay their overdue bill, we will be able to survive. But, we will be unable to pay for our General Assistance program in future years unless we are able to increase our General Assistance Tax Levy. We will be asking taxpayers on the November ballot to allow Decatur Township to increase the maximum levy permitted by law from .01% to .02% of the appraised value of all Decatur Township property. You will be hearing a lot more about this prior to the November election.
Our Town Board has adopted a budget for next year. We had to look at each department's wishes very carefully. Funding for the Assessor's office continues to be a problem. Tom Greanias is not doing his job as Assessor. You are all aware that in his first year and a half, he did 309 assessments out of the 27,000 he was supposed to do. For the first time in the township’s history, we had to hire the county to do our assessor’s work, which they accomplished in less than two months. (I might add that the county assessor has one less person in their office than Tom has.) In 2012, Tom completed only 795 property assessments. To this day, I still see no signs that any assessing is being done. We have offered help of various kinds. We talked to the PAMS/PRO software company from which the former administration purchased the program he is supposed to be using. They told us exactly what computer equipment he needs to maximize he system. We offered him $11,000 from our budget to give him what he needs for new computers. We offered to send the township’s computer expert to help him get the system on line. However, he was unhappy that we were interfering in his business. The system is the same one the county uses and they have mastered it. He would be fired if he were in a private business situation.
The town board, including myself, is rightly concerned about giving Tom any money in the budget. He complains that we didn’t give him enough money to do his job. That complaint is something I would listen to if he were attempting to do any kind of a job. He has as much money as the previous assessor had when the previous assessor completed the quadrennial assessment. He is doing nothing. The taxpayers of the township deserve better. They deserve to have their properties properly assessed. By law, Tom is an elected official, so there is very little we can do besides cut his budget, although we are looking into other ways to solve the problem.
The cemeteries are coming along very well. Our Superintendent is doing a great job. We had a successful Civil War Tour of Greenwood last October and people are still talking about it.
See News Briefs for updates on Township activities as they occur.
Duane Potter, Decatur Township Supervisor
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DUANE POTTER --TOWNSHIP SUPERVISOR