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By MATT DANIELS
Rantoul Press assistant editor
Industrial, residential and commercial property values in Rantoul have declined, according to Rantoul Comptroller Scot Brandon.
Brandon informed the village board at its April 3 study session that figures supplied by Champaign County indicate the village experienced a reduction of more than 7 percent in assessed valuation this past year. In the two years prior, there have been reductions as well, resulting in a total decline of 12 percent.
“Last winter, when we passed the tax levy, we actually reduced the tax levy a little bit, and for the last three years, we’ve kept the tax levy amount the same,” Brandon said. “Regardless of that, because of the decline of assessed valuation, our rate has gone up.”
Brandon said the rate of $1.16 per $100 equalized assessed valuation in 2009 has jumped to $1.31 per $100 equalized assessed valuation this year.
What that means to an individual homeowner in Rantoul depends, Brandon said.
“It could result in a higher tax amount to an individual whose assessed valuation didn’t reduce by an equal amount of the overall assessed valuation,” he said. “Hopefully that trend won’t continue, but at least for the last three years, the numbers have not been good.”
Budget process: The board was expected to approve the fiscal year 2012-13 village budget at its Tuesday meeting. The total budgeted expenses are $32,779,594, excluding transfers. The board reviewed the budget since it was presented to the board during a special board meeting March 19. Several changes were made to the initial budget, mainly in the area of increasing fuel costs. The original budget totaled $32,233,265. The budget for the fiscal year 2011-12 was $33,686,622.
Fire training at Autumn Glen: Fire Chief Ken Waters said the department started room and content burns at the former Autumn Glen apartment complex in north Rantoul March 24. The department will do more room and content burns in May, with burning the five buildings the village purchased last summer scheduled in June, Waters said.
Possible city park: The board was expected to vote at its Tuesday regular board meeting to purchase property at 1000 and 1002 E. Grove Avenue. The property, located behind Dairy Queen, is being donated by John and Barb Bonacorsi to the village, and Village Administrator Bruce Sandahl said the area “would be a wonderful place for a city park.
“It really helps clean up that whole corner,” Sandahl said. “It would really look great and would be a nice addition to that area.”
No other information about the possible park was discussed.
Village website: Brandon said the village is still evaluating proposals to redesign the village’s website, www.myrantoul.com. Brandon said the village has narrowed its selection to three candidates, and meetings are scheduled with the plan to have a proposal recommendation by the village board’s regular meeting Tuesday, May 8.
No to golf carts urged: Rantoul resident Billie Hunsucker voiced his opposition to the board about the possibility of residents driving golf carts on village streets. The idea was first broached at the board’s February study session.
“We have enough problems right now with groups of people walking in the roads and clogging up the streets,” Hunsucker said. “We don’t need golf carts in the roads.”
Hunsucker lives on Fairway Drive near Willow Pond Golf Course, one of two golf courses in Rantoul. Brookhill Golf Course in north Rantoul is the other.
“I could just see myself one of these days coming home going south on Maplewood Drive right past the stoplight and right before I get to my street ... having some idiot come off the golf course across that sidewalk and across that culvert where there is no entrance to the road, and I have a choice of either hitting him or going into a ditch,” Hunsucker said. “I don’t like the prospect for doing that. I’m opposed to it. I would like to see that never come up on the agenda.”
Bethany Park sidewalk: Rantoul resident Lori Kistler asked the board about when the public easement would be put in near the Bethany Park subdivision. The board voted in December to make the sidewalk, which was deemed private, public.
“The residents at Bethany Park have been asking when it was going to be reinstalled,” Kistler said.
Mayor Neal Williams said he did not have an exact date
“I know that Public Works has instructed (their staff) to go out to the site and mark off for utilities,” Williams said. “They’ll do it as quickly as they can.”
Kistler said Public Works marked off the utilities a month ago. Williams replied again that he didn’t have an exact date on when the sidewalk would be put in.
Tree City: Rantoul resident Lorraine Wirges told the board the village was declared Tree City USA for the 26th straight year after she attended a program March 27.
“This couldn’t not have been possible without the Recreation Department and the Public Works staff,” said Wirges, who also thanked the Rantoul Tree Commission and Rantoul Garden Club for their efforts.
Projects update: Director of Public Works Greg Hazel said work on the South Murray Road reconstruction project will “hopefully begin in the next week or two.”
The project, which is in west Rantoul near Wal-Mart, is expected to add an eastbound right turn lane along U.S. 136 and also include pavement widening and improvements on the road.
Rantoul Inspector Dan Culkin said work on additions at Rantoul Foods has started, but construction in the Generations of Hope neighborhood “is still stalled.”
“We’re waiting on the owners to make some progress with the builders,” Culkin said. “I’m not quite sure where that is, but they are stalled in the actual construction right now.”
Pool time: Andy Graham, the youth programs director at the Rantoul Recreation Department, said the water in the pool at the Hap Parker Family Aquatic Center was turned on last week to start power-washing.
“We’ll be filling that in the next month and getting ready for lifeguard training and the rest of the season,” Graham said.