By Stephanie Malench
On April 6, the voters of Collinsville township, which includes all of Collinsville, Maryville, parts of Glen Carbon and the unincorporated areas surrounding this municipalities elected Derrick Cox and four new trustees. The platform Cox ran on was more services, lower taxes, and transparency on how tax money is spent.
Cox recently talked to this reporter about his accomplishments and frustrations during his first 100 days in office.
The accomplishment Cox said he is most proud of was reducing the township budget by over 20% without adjusting the Road and Bridge or Assessor’s offices budgets while adding services for seniors.
Cox said he “wants to bring new life and energy to the senior center” and feels he has already done this through special parties, such as one thrown for Laura’s 100th birthday that drew people from throughout the community, including members of the Collinsville City Council, Fire, and Police Departments. Cox in conjunction with senior center director Brandon Loyet has also created a Senior Council that meets on the first Wednesday of each month at 12:30 p.m. to discuss activities that would benefit seniors.
Much of what Cox has already accomplished has come through donations from the Fairmont City and Collinsville Food pantries, the senior council, a grant for $10,000 from Madison County to provide free lunches, and a new senior shuttle to be leased from Madison County Transit for $1 a year to bring seniors to the center or go on field trips. Cox is also thankful for money being handed down from the county to help with utility and rental assistance, which is taking the burden off of the General Assistance budget.
“I’m very proud of the center”, Cox said, and “I really proud of my staff for coming together for the backpack give away”.
In this year’s annual school supply give away, 400 backpacks were assembled with the correct supplies for each grade with monetary donations from Collinsville Building and Loan and purchased by the Township.
Cox also talked about some of the frustrations he has dealt with during his first 100 days. The biggest one being that the township has not been able to secure the land next to the senior center for a parking lot that he has been encouraging the township to purchase for several years, going back to his term as trustee.
The issue now is the owner is refusing to sell the land, even thought the city has approved the land as being safe by EPA standards for a paved parking lot. Cox said there is a $115,000 grant waiting at Madison County for the project.
Cox said since that is the only use for the land and part of the buildings sewers tie into the property, the Township will be forced into filing for imminent domain, which will have legal costs.
Cox is also frustrated by the “false accusations” on social media and in this publication that are hurting what the Township is trying to do. [Editor’s note: Sound Off is an opinion column for readers to share their thoughts or comment on articles online and printed in the paper the following week.]
“We had an election and the voters spoke” Cox stated, and wants everyone to come together to give the new board a chance to make a Better Township.
One of the major issues Cox has not been able to tackle is the Assessor’s office. Cox said he has not met with any of the employees from that office yet and will let the board decide if the budget and staff is cut in that office next year. He said if the trustees feel everything is working fine in that department he will let it be.
Cox welcomed anyone who has feedback, be it positive or negative, to email him directly with their comments and concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (618)344-1290.