Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Family Dollar Closes

In case you don't get over to the west side of Carbondale that often, the Family Dollar at the corner of Oakland and Main quietly closed down. Sign on the door sends interested parties to the nearest store in Goreville.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Sales Taxes Extended

Rather surprised at the very light turnout at tonight's city council meeting, especially since sales taxes, always a hot button issue, were on the agenda. The audience consisted of less than 6 people.  Members of the council stated several times that extending the taxes had been discussed a number so far this year and had even been figured into this year's budget. However, the half a dozen or so people I spoke with this week knew nothing about the proposed extensions and the Chamber of Commerce had not polled its members on the topic.

After some discussion, the council voted to eliminate the sunset clause for both taxes, meaning both will continue indefinitely unless council chooses to revisit them, which will likely only happen if enough residents of Carbondale contact them.. The vote was closer than I expected with Councilmen Loos and Grant, Councilwoman Harvey and Mayor Henry voting yes and Councilmen Doherty and Kang and Councilwoman Bradshaw voting no.

I was interested to learn that, due to the way the original ordinance had been written, the CCHS bond tax would not have sunseted. Instead, since the bonds had been paid off, the money from the tax would have continued to go into the general school funds until the ordinance was changed.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Council to Vote on Maintaining Sales Taxes

City council will vote on Tuesday to repeal the ordinance sunsetting the 1/4% sales tax enacted back in 1999 to fund bonds for construction of the Carbondale Community High School, as well as one enacted in 2014 to shore up city revenues against the potential loss of state revenue. The CCHS tax is scheduled to expire in October, the other on Jan. 1 of 2018. The repeal would eliminate the sunsetting in both instances.

This is wrong. These taxes were enacted for specific reasons and there has been little to no discussion regarding the need for them. Let the taxes expire and then make a case for enacting a new tax for the loss of revenue. If such a tax is needed, council should be able to make a strong case for it.

Here is the text of the proposed change in the ordinance:

On February 2, 1999, the Carbondale City Council approved Ordinance 99-06 which imposed an additional 1/4% home rule municipal retailers' occupation and service occupational tax.  The purpose of this additional tax was to provide additional revenue to fund the construction of the new Carbondale Community High School (CCHS). CCHS issued $16 million in bonds to finance the project and the City of Carbondale pledged the proceeds of the additional 1/4% home rule sales tax to provide annual debt service payments.  Annual debt service payments are approximately $800,000.  Ordinance 99-06 also directed the Carbondale City Council to "take action to repeal the 1/4% increase in the City's home rule sales tax" once the CCHS bond is retired in full.  The City of Carbondale will make the final debt service payment in October 2017.  Although Ordinance 99-06 directs Council to repeal the tax following the retirement of the CCHS bond, it is the opinion of Staff that a seated Council doesn't have the legal authority to direct a future Council to take specific action(s). As such, and to avoid any confusion, Staff recommends that if the City Council wants the 1/4% tax established in Ordinance 99-06 to continue, then affirmative action should be taken to confirm the continuation of the tax.  

On March 25, 2014, the Carbondale City Council approved Ordinance 2014-10 which imposed an additional 1/4% home rule sales tax.  This tax was imposed primarily to defend against the potential loss of shared State revenue that the Governor's office and legislature were considering at that time.  Ordinance 2014-10 contains a sunset provision which terminates the 1/4% tax automatically on January 1, 2018.  If the Council wants this tax to continue beyond the sunset date, then action to repeal the sunset provision should be taken. If not, then the tax will terminate on January 1. 

Currently, each 1/4% home rule sales tax generates approximately $1,023,000 annually that is used for general fund revenues. The FY18 budget was developed with the assumption that each of these home rule sales taxes and their associated revenues would continue.  As mentioned in previous City Council meetings, the loss of one of the 1/4% sales taxes would facilitate a budget shortfall of approximately $321,092 for FY18. Therefore, if revenue is reduced by this amount then additional cuts to personnel and/or services will need to be made to mitigate the loss of revenue or budget adjustments should be made to reflect that the City will produce a projected budget deficit for FY18.  The State of Illinois allows home rule communities to adjust their home rule sales tax rates in 1/4% increments.  Ordinances must be filed with the Illinois Department of Revenue by October 1 to begin implementation by January 1 or must be filed by April 1 to begin implementation by July 1.

Attached to this agenda item are 5-year budgets with 3 scenarios; one assumes that both home rule sales taxes continue, another assumes the loss of revenue from one of the 1/4% taxes, and the last assumes the loss of both sales taxes. Staff has spent considerable time analyzing the City budget and recommends that each of these taxes be continued if the City Council wants to maintain current service levels.  

Recommended Action:

It's recommended that the City Council Amend Title 7 of the Carbondale Revised Code to repeal the sunset provision in Ordinance 2014-10, maintaining the 1/4% home rule sales tax, and affirm and maintain the 1/4% home rule sales tax established in Ordinance 99-06. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017


Still companies looking at fracking in southern Illinois so would like to point out that, prior to fracking starting in the state, Oklahoma averaged 1-2 earthquakes of 3.0 or greater magnitude per year. Not bad.

In 2016, years after fracking started, Oklahoma had 623 earthquakes of 3.0 magnitude or greater. Given that Southern Illinois has the New Madrid Seismic Zone directly south and the Wabash Valley Seismic Zone directly east, is it really that good of an idea to do something that will cause over 500 noticeable earthquakes per year right between two seismic zones?

Friday, June 23, 2017

Gander Mountain Still Closing

Gander Mountain, which opened with much fanfare in Marion in 2015, still has "Store Closing" and "Prices 30 to 60% Off" signs hanging in front of it. Sture taking its time for a store that announced its closing back in May

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Homegrown Stage Lineup Announced

So we have the cover bands playing the corner of Washington and Walnut the Saturday and Sunday before the eclipse and we have the local bands on the stage the day of the eclipse. Well, quite a few of them will perform during the merchant's mart in the First National parking lot the weekend of the 20 and 21 so there will be a lot of local music playing. Still find it bemusing that the Homegrown Stage performances didn't get announced until after the cover bands were announced following the fall through of the national acts on the 20 and 21.
From the press release:
The City of Carbondale and Carbondale Main Street are excited to be adding another day of music to Shadow Fest.
The Homegrown Stage will feature a variety of local bands on Monday, August 21.
The lineup will be as follows:
·        11 a.m.-noon, Hey Honey, Americana
·        Noon-1 p.m., Cave Futures, Indie Rock
·        1:30-2:30 p.m., Tawl Paul & Slappin Henry Blue, Blues
·        2:30-3:30 p.m., Porchfire, Country
·        3:30-4:30 p.m., Buzzard, Hard Rock
The stage will be located at the corner of Washington and Walnut Streets from 11a.m.-5 p.m. Admission to ALL of the concerts areFREE.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Help Brand Carbondale

The city is looking for resident input on developing a brand for Carbondale so is asking people what makes Carbondale special. I sat in on a forum a couple of months ago and the two things that stood out were SIUC and ease of access to the Shawnee National Forest and other outdoor sites. We are also moving towards becoming a more bike focused city and you cannot find a wider variety of music anywhere in the region. From the press release:

The City of Carbondale is working with North Star Destination Strategies Inc. to develop a community-wide brand for Carbondale. But, we need help from our residents to determine how to best communicate what makes our community so special.
The Community Survey will determine Carbondale’s strengths, weaknesses, challenges and opportunities. All Carbondale residents are encouraged to participate.
“This branding project is critically important in moving our city forward,” said Carbondale Mayor John “Mike” Henry. “We hope the majority of Carbondale residents will take the time to give us their input.”
To access the online survey, visit Printed surveys will also be available at City Hall (200 S. Illinois Avenue) during normal business hours. All surveys must be completed by Monday, July 10.