By Stephanie Malench
The new Collinsville Township board met for the first time on May 26 for a special meeting. The meeting started with a message of inspiration from David Amsden, pastor of Navigation Church. Amsden told the story out of the Bible about Nehemiah rebuilding a wall and having to hold a sword and a shovel. Amsden said there will be “times to defend and times to build” but both cannot be done at the same time.
There were three public comments, by Ron Jedda, Phil Astrauskas, and Scott Rayho, which all had the same message in different words: reach out to others for help, not just the ones you know. Rayho stressed to the members of the board “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. Learn what’s out there to make the best possible decisions”.
During Comments by the Supervisor, Derrick Cox thanked “Irene and the Collinsville Golden Girls” for their donation of microphones for the township board meetings so audience members live and online could hear.
Cox also mentioned that senior center lunches would be free until further notice due to a large donation from the Fairmont City Food Pantry. (Editor’s note: the donation was actually from the Fairmont City Branch of the Society of St. Vincent DePaul).
There was no report from Assessor Pete Poletti. In an interview after the meeting, Poletti said he was out of town that day but that his deputy had never been made aware of the meeting. “We’ve always offered to tell trustees how our office runs and what we do. We are not operating any different than we have the last 15 years”.
Road Commissioner Kathy Trucano-Hoelscher said that the Woodbridge Ct. rehabilitation is under contract with Christ Brothers and is going well. Trucano-Hoelscher also reported that she brought an intergovernmental agreement for Cox to sign allowing the Road and Bridge Department to performing plowing, parking lot striping, and other maintenance at a substantial savings to the township.
Cox then announced that he would be appointing each trustee to be a liaison to a different department in the township, so that the appointed trustee could “get to know that department inside and out better than anyone else on the board. We can have them report whatever they found out about the department they are in charge of where a previous section of the agenda was reports by Officers, Committees, and Special Committees. If we have questions, we can go to [the trustee] over that department”.
On the decision to appoint liaisons, Cox said “this has not been done before in the township. It might be done in other municipalities, I just thought it was a good idea”.
Assignments were as follows: Matthew Guenther- Road and Bridge, Brad Sewell- Senior Center, Clint Ball- Assessor’s Office, Ashley Stewart- General Assistance.
Cox commented on his picks for each department. Guenther had already gone down and spent a few hours at the garage. Sewell is a hard worker and “we have a lot of big ideas that are going to take a lot of work and time”. Ball has the hardest job, as the Assessor’s Office has the most room to grow. Stewart loves to help people.
After this comment, Cox said he did not know until last year townships are required by Illinois law to have General Assistance for residents that do not qualify for other services.
The next order of business for Cox was to appoint a new Township Attorney, as Cox “got a resignation letter last month” from Justin Mattea (Editor’s note: Cox asked in the last meeting where he was still trustee why there were no charges for the previous month and asked then Supervisor Dan Hopkins if they still had a Township Attorney and he simply said “no”.
Cox appointed Mattea’s uncle, Bruce Mattea Law Firm. Either Mattea or his associate Bill Boker will be at each meeting. Mattea will be charging the Township a $00/month retainer and a $175/hour rate.
When asked by Guenther what his biggest impact would be, Mattea replied “I’m interested in helping the Township. Most of my clients are Township residents. I don’t need the money to buy groceries. I want to be one of the team”.
Due to problems with the previous cleaning company, Cox has assigned Senior Center Director Brandon Loyet to do the regular cleaning of the Senior Center with a weekly deep cleaning of the Senior Center and Township Office by Liberty Cleaning once a week for $600 per month.
An agenda item asking for Requests for Proposals for forensic audit services was tabled until the regular meeting in June. Cox said “there may be things in the past we can get paid back for”.
According to accountingtools.com, “a forensic audit involves the examination of a firm’s financial records for evidence to be used in a legal proceeding. A forensic auditor may search for evidence of fraud, which can then be used to prosecute a perpetrator…and might involve a search for conflicts of interest, bribery, asset misappropriation, or financial statement fraud”.
The pubic hearing for the 2021-2022 budget has been set for June 24. The notice is posted at the Township offices, Senior Center, Maryville City Hall, Collinsville City Hall, and the website. The budget is also on the website, www.collinsvilletownship.org/transparency.
Of the budget, Cox described it as “lean and mean. I wasn’t able to cut as much as I wanted. We have to legally find out what we can and can’t do with the budget by township code”.
The next regular meeting is set for June 8 at 7 p.m. at the Senior Center.