By JACK ANDERSON
For Rantoul Press
In last week’s edition of the Rantoul Press, Dave Hinton reported in his article, "Village official addresses controversy," that Village Administrator Jeff Fiegenschuh had addressed the village board over the rerouting of a storm sewer line around village trustee Chad Smith’s property.
Fiegenschuh said mistakes were made and he and other village officials were guilty of a lack of transparency. In his comments to the board, he said that he wants to ensure the village is truly practicing complete transparency in the future.
He told the board, …"Despite what’s been discussed, there was never any formal financing plan offered to Mr. Smith or discussed. ..."
Fiegenschuh’s statement makes reference to his apparent disagreement with my April 4 guest commentary titled, "Get a loan from a bank, not the taxpayers," where I said the village should not be providing Smith financing for a 15-year loan to pay back the $17,079, instead Smith should get a loan from a bank.
So where did I get the notion the village was planning to offer Smith a loan to finance the reimbursement? In response to a Jan. 23, 2017, Freedom of Information Act request, the village provided two germane documents dated Jan. 30, 2017.
The first document prepared on village letterhead is addressed to Smith and signed by Fiegenschuh, where the first sentence of the letter begins with, "As we discussed previously, please find below the terms and conditions of the agreement for reimbursement. …"
The letter goes on to detail the terms of a 15-year payback period with a 2.91 percent interest rate, bi-annual payments commencing July 1, 2017, late payment penalties, a lien placement on the property, with an attached detailed 30-payment interest/principal amortization table.
The second document is a prepared agenda item for the Feb. 7, 2017, meeting seeking the board’s approval titled, "Reimbursement Agreement with Mr. Chad Smith." The agenda item states the reimbursement is subject to terms and conditions outlined in the agreement, referencing the above mentioned 15-year payment schedule.
The agenda item document was signed by both the department head of public works and Fiegenschuh.
If as Fiegenschuh contends, no financing plan was ever discussed with Smith, then on what basis was the effort expended to prepare all these signed documents detailing a financing plan? The basis seems to lie within the first sentence of Fiegenschuh’s agreement for reimbursement letter to Smith, "As we discussed previously. …"
So when the village administrator addressed the board from a prepared statement on April 11 saying, "…There was never any formal financing plan offered to Mr. Smith or discussed," was he demonstrating how under his administration the village board members and the community can expect complete transparency in Rantoul’s future?
Jack Anderson is a resident of Rantoul.