The Springfield YMCA’s upgrade took a step forward at tonight’s city council meeting. $5.9 million in TIF funding was approved for the new facility planned for Enos Park. TIF money will be drawn from both the Enos Park and Downtown TIF funds. This money is only a small portion of the nearly $35 million project. Representatives from the YMCA said that the project could not go forward without the TIF support from the city.
Although the aldermen stated their support for the upgrade, the use of TIF money raised some issues. Because the YMCA is a nonprofit, it will not directly provide any “increment” to the tax base. Even those who otherwise support nonprofits often consider it inappropriate to use TIF money in this way. However, aldermen pointed out that in addition to the $35 million construction project the YMCA is providing, the project should do other things to generate new growth. Hopefully, the new structure will foster development to itself, and better connect the medical districts with downtown.
The real benefit of TIF projects was also touched on in the discussion. Both Alderwoman Dicenso and Alderman McMenamin mentioned the Hy-Vee TIF project. While they both said that Hy-Vee itself was a boon to McArthur Boulevard, Dicenso had a less favorable characterization of how much additional activity that TIF generated.
The TIF funding for the YMCA was approved unanimously.
Rezoning Melrose St.
An old bar location may be getting a second life in Ward 2. 1510 Melrose St. was approved for rezoning to potentially allow a tavern to be opened in the old Sandtrap Bar location. Although the new owners are seeking a tavern license, their stated goal is to be more of a convince store with video gambling. Aldermen Senor supported the new endeavor. He said that if the council continued to vote down rezoning for businesses, it would be increasingly difficult to say Springfield is business friendly.
But several neighbors of the property were opposed to the project. Citing a lack of parking and increased noise, they felt the store would not be a good addition to their neighborhood. Opponents pointed out how close the location is to residential areas, and how many children live in the area. The location also has a bad reputation. Even the new owners admitted that there had been serious problem in the past. However, they said that the hyper focus they would be under would ensure they were a good neighbor.
The rezoning was approved 8-1-1, with McMenamin voting against and Fulgenzi voting present. This only changed the zoning of the location. They will still need to get a liquor and gaming license to actually operate the proposed business.
You can watch the full meeting in the player. The zoning hearing starts around the 15 minute mark, the YMCA TIF starts around the 70 minute mark.
11th Street extension finally open
It may have taken decades, but the 11th Street corridor is open for business. Reaching from downtown to the UIS and Lincoln Land campuses, the road is expected to make those schools better connected to the Springfield community. The corridor is much more than just a road. With bike lanes and sidewalks for pedestrians, it is open to various modes of travel.
The project had many supporters over the years. Senator Dick Durbin, State Representative Tim Butler, Mayor Langfelder, and UIS Chancellor Susan Koch were just some of the current leaders who attended today’s ribbon cutting event.
The corridor was initially proposed in the 1970s. Several speakers mentioned that the project took far longer than anyone anticipated, but no one offered a concrete reason as to why. Back then, UIS was still Sangamon State University and was outside of town. As both UIS and Springfield have grown, the perceived need for the corridor only increased. Fortunately, a long timeline did not mean a huge bill for the city. Overall, the city only paid for a small portion of the corridor. The federal government picked up $5.7 million of the seven million dollar price tag.
You can watch the full ceremony in the player below.
2018 Old Capitol Blues & BBQ
The 2018 Old Capitol Blues & BBQ will be Friday and Saturday, August 24th & 25th! Check back for Updates and the Band Lineup!
Here’s the bands:
Friday, August 24:
Mary Jo Curry,
Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers,
Saturday, August 25:
ICBC ‘Blues Challenge’ Bands,
Jim Suhler and Monkey Beat,
Big Head Todd and the Monsters
Wow, last year the 2017 Old Capitol Blues & BBQ was incredible. Everything came together; a terrific line-up, good weather, a hard-working team of volunteers, great vendors and competitors, and fans that wanted to have fun and listen to great music.
Myself, and the ICBC want to thank the Old Capitol Blues & BBQ owners, Barry Friedman, Bernie Segatto, Kevan Stapleton, and Matt Farrell for allowing us to hold our blues challenge during this great festival and for putting your trust in us to put together your line-up.
We’d like to thank the incredible artists that all put on amazing shows. Kenny Neal, Eric Gales, Lil Ed and the Blues Imperials, Albert Castiglia, James Armstrong, and The Mary Jo Curry Band represent a broad pallet of blues styles, but they all possess the ability to connect with the crowd and put on outstanding performances. And what about Kilborn Alley playing the Alamo after-fest party with special guest Eugene Hideaway Bridges. And then Kenny Neal put on a killer performance with the band. Simply incredible.
We’d like to thank Mark Tate owner of the Luthier Shoppe, for doing an outstanding job managing the stage and providing technical support both nights. On Friday night, he worked with David Lumsden to work out a plan to keep the operation moving efficiently, and it worked well. Thanks to the backstage crew, Bill Davison, Bill Castor, Greg Hackett, Rusty Gentry, Dennis McGrath for doing what was needed to make the transitions between acts move like clockwork. These guys handled everything from unloading and loading equipment, making stage transitions, keeping parking areas clear for artists vehicles, being gate keepers, and any number of small details that were needed.
Many thanks to Doug Antonacci and The Music Shoppe on Stevenson for providing the drums and bass rig used by the main stage acts throughout the festival. This certainly helped make for a smooth operating stage.
Thank you to Cindi Goza, Lori Ann McCabe, and Gale for taking care of the artists lounge. It takes effort to keep things clean, stocked and readily available, while allowing the artists their space and privacy. Great job.
Thanks to Kathy Dauksza, Kathy Cooke, Janet Kennedy, John and Maryann Cartwright for handling merchandise for the Club and artist, and to Don Hudson for doing a great job with the 50/50.
We had a great solo/duo Blues Challenge. Michael Goza coordinated the event and MC’d the Challenge. He put together a team of 4 top notch judges: Charlie Bower from Jazz and Blues Florida, David Lumsden, Billinda Devillez, Alex Borisov, with scorekeeper, Bill Castor. Our competitors were all terrific this year: Susan Williams and Daryl Wright, King Neptune, Carl Long and Frank Trompeter, Tony Young and J Cole, Robert Sampson, and Marty Morris. They did a great job.
Lastly, we must thank Mary Jo Curry. Mary Jo performed on Friday night, sang the National Anthem both nights, and MC’d the entire event.
Budget Director McCarty delivers good news to city council
Springfield got two good pieces of news from Office of Budget and Management Director Bill McCarty at last night’s city council meeting. The first was that a pension spiking loophole had been closed, and the second was the restoration of the Endowed Care fund at Oak Ridge Cemetery.
McCarty also announced that another form of pension spiking had been eliminated. Under previous administrations, workers could cash in their unused vacation time more than a year before they retired. This “spike” in income boosted their final compensation, and set an artificially high baseline for pension payouts.
Pension spiking is a huge problem for pensions because it disrupts the normal calculations of how pensions are balanced. A worker’s contributions are set based on salary. These contributions create the fund that will support the pension over time. With normal pay scales, it should be easy to predict how much a worker will be making at the end of his or her career, and the contributions can be set accordingly. But if their final pay is inflated, the pension fund will be under funded and the city will have to make more contributions to keep the fund solvent. McCarty also noted that if workers cashed out more than a year in advance, they could draw another year of vacation time to cash out again.
This issue was brought to during the previous administration when the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) began billing the city up front for the increased pension costs. Before, the added costs of the spike were spread out over time, and were difficult to detect. Once the payments were spotted, McCarty and several aldermen pushed to have the rules changed to close the spiking loophole. McCarty blamed the problem on the law as written, and noted that this form of spiking was perfectly within the rules.
Now that the rules have been changed, the city is seeing significant savings on its pension costs. On average the city is saving over $1.3 million per year. This is the third spiking method that McCarty has worked to eliminate. You can see McCarty explain the loophole in the player.
Endowed Care Fund made whole
Oak Ridge Cemetery’s Endowed Care Fund has finally been restored. In the past, cemetery officials had borrowed from that fund to pay for expenses outside the fund’s intended target. Even after practice was stopped, the city still needed years to repay the borrowed funds. McCarty said that the fund has been made whole again, and can start contributing nearly $125,000 in dividends back to its intended use.
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