The Budget Hearing lasted 36 minutes followed by the 1 hour and 20 minute Monthly Meeting
It was a very long night for the Avon Township Board members as well as anyone who stuck around for the entire budget hearing and regularly scheduled Avon Township monthly meeting. The evening started out with the budget hearing where the discussion centered around any possible action on the 2014-2015 Appropriation of Township Funds. Although the tentative budget was published in several newspapers and posted at the Avon Township offices as it has been done in the past local resident and Avon Precinct 45 Democratic Committeemen, Travis Haley, questioned the Board as to why it was not included on the Township’s website for public viewing.
Trustee Chris Larsen put on a Power Point presentation that explained the difficulty the Township has in dealing with fewer funds and how the Board has curtailed spending in almost every area. Over the past several months members of the Board have separated the various areas of the Township expenditures that were previously commingled and separated them into separate funds such as the Assessor, the Supervisor, General Assistance, Road & Bridge, and Permanent Hard Road. In his presentation, Trustee Larsen showed each new funds breakdown with several using most of their funds for payroll since they are more service related.
Another member of the public, Ann Richmond of Hainesville, had questions for Avon Assessor Christopher Ditton but was frustrated that he failed to show up for the budget hearing. You can view the entire budget hearing in the following video.
After the 2014-2015 Budget hearings the Avon Township Board held their regularly scheduled Monthly meeting. During this meeting the proposed budget was approved after a couple more tweaks to indicate additional funding that had not been included in the original proposal. Another hot topic on the agenda was the yet unsigned lease agreement with the food pantry which operates out of space at the Township Center.
Back in March it was brought up that due to some personnel changes Attorney Dietz was still working on the approval of the contracts for the Food Pantry. Supervisor Rusch had asked when they could get the contracts to the Trustees and Attorney Dietz stated we would have rough drafts in two weeks and that they could vote on it at the next meeting. However, the issue became a sticking point that was not resolved since the Township Board’s attorney proposed a lease as well as a “service agreement”. The Avon Community Food Pantry’s attorney had submitted a proposed lease to Avon Township back on February 14th and instructed the ACFP board to reject any lease agreement that included any type of “service agreement”. The “Service Agreement” proposed by Attorney Dietz was for the transfer of funds (held by Avon Township that are made up of donations from private citizens to the food pantry) and also dictated more Township involvement. The Township is not an authorized “not for profit” and therefore there are no conditions where a “donor”, who gave money to former Supervisor Sam Yingling‘s food pantry, could legally take an IRS tax deduction. This could result in a donor encountering auditing issues with the IRS if they were writing off their donations as a charitable donation. This IRS implication became an issue that Wendy Warden, President and Founder of the new ACFP, could never get Yingling to understand. Once Supervisor Sam Yingling left as Township Supervisor, there was a bit of friction over his still wanting to control the food pantry operations through the organization he had helped setup and remained on the pantry’s board (not to mention the IRS implications). That group was eventually disbanded and the new 501-C3 was formed as a partner to the Northern Illinois Emergency Food Bank.
During the meeting Warden vehemently explained that IRS statutes and the contract with the Northern Illinois Food Bank to be a “food pantry” is a unique status as an “Emergency Food Pantry (EFP)” which requires business be conducted differently. Being an Emergency Food Pantry is much different than being food pantries like the ones that are run at other townships in Lake County. Because they are required to adhere to a different standard, they are able to receive upwards of 3000 pounds of free government commodities each month. That 3000 pounds makes a significant impact to the sustenance that they offer. After much discussion and Attorney Dietz stating that the Board could make a motion to sign the lease agreement without including a service agreement, the Board voted to extend the lease along with a designated (mutually agreed on) elected Township official being added to the Food Pantry’s Board. The discussion regarding the food pantry begins at the 23:52 minute marker in the following full-length video.