Rockton Township discusses billboard, audit, bar, cemetery, bikes, repairs, and tires
At their Sept. 13, 2023 meeting, Rockton Township Trustees revisited actions to be taken regarding a billboard, managed by Lamar Advertising, that sits along Hwy. 2 and 75, in Rockton Township, near Blackhawk Prairie Park.
Founded in 1902, Lamar is one of the largest outdoor advertising companies in the world, with approximately 361,000 displays across the United States and Canada, including fourteen billboards on Illinois Route 251 and another set on 1320 Blackhawk Blvd.
Though there were four years left on the old contract, trustee Randy Johnson has negotiated a new contract with Lamar. The new rate is set to begin in 2024, but advance payments have increased the annual revenue for the Township to $1,200 per year. The former contract was for 10 years at $100 a year.
Rockton Township trustees reviewed and discussed requirements of the revised lease.
Attorney Doug Henry advised that the new contract options should be voted on at the next town meeting, which is set for next April.
"At least 15 electors are required at a special town meeting. There is no attendance requirement at a regular town meeting," Henry said.
“Since this is found money, if you have already been paid through April, then the check is good until July 1,” Henry added.
Trustee Gene Hermann asked, “Shouldn't there be something that allows for inflation? If we look for a shorter term, do we need to be required to have a 10 year lease?”
Henry used the Rockton Township Center as an example of where a short term lease could be used. “A town meeting is requested to release real property,” Henry said.
At the last meeting, trustees discussed whether they could get a lower rate for preparation of the State of Illinois annual report, compared to what the Township is currently paying to the accounting firm Siepert & Co. Several local governments hire Siepert to audit their books each year.
Office Manager Kristi Schaffer suggested that maybe she could check to see if there are any auditors associated with the Township Officials of Illinois (TOI).
Trustee Gene Hermann said that he has reached out to the township's CPA about the Township's yearly audit. “I haven't received an answer yet,” Hermann said.
Trustees agreed that in a large township it takes a great involvement of time to conduct an audit. An accountant can spend around one week in the office plus another two to three weeks with others just running numbers.
“We have been using Siepert since I first came on the board here,” Hermann said.
Hermann asked what the downside would be if an audit isn't performed every year. He was told that an audit protects the Township from a tax liability, as a safety precaution. But Herman called the cost exorbitant and asked if the township's CPA can be used instead.
It was noted that if it is done less often, the auditors will have twice as much to look at and may charge more. Currently Siepert is paid $19,500 per year. “If this protects us every year, can we do the same thing at a cost of $10,000?” Hermann asked.
Township Supervisor Paul Williams said, “When Sharon Hecox was here [as office manager until 2021], Siepert was the most reasonably priced company around.”
Trustee Vicky Ivy reported on Capone's Bar, which is in Rockton Township though it has a South Beloit address. The manager had previously asked her for help with resolving issues at the bar. She said, “The last couple of times they had a faster response from the police department, and that the noise levels have been cut down. The manager and the Winnebago County Police are now working together.”
Ivy also thanked Office Manager Kristi Schaffer for helping a local resident get a medical card and to take other steps to get on track.
“New windows, a good new roof and a complete exterior repainting job has been done on the log cabin,” Williams said.
The Township is looking to make future improvements at the Center. In the works: installing new bathrooms in the basement level. When the upstairs bathrooms are redone, a back flow prevention device will need to be installed.
Williams said, “In order to put a sprinkler system in we have to upgrade to a 4" inch water line.”
These improvements come out of Township funds.
Hermann asked, “Are we going to get bids to make sure that we are getting the best deal?”
Williams replied, “We budgeted the money to have this done last year.”
The cemetery report shows that no new spaces were sold, one cremation was done, and one tree was removed.
A local Boy Scout is helping to oversee a veteran marker project in the Rockton Township Cemetery.
Williams said he was going to call Rockton Village President John Peterson to check on the progress of a bike path to be built on Rockton Rd. and Old River Rd. “I want to know why nothing has been started yet. Different agencies have given money to this project,” Williams said.
The Township Officials of Illinois Conference, which is an educational networking event, will be held Nov. 12-14, 2023 in Springfield.
A used tire drop-off was organized by Winnebago County on Aug. 25. At their August meeting, Township Road Commissioner Trent Kehoe had offered to help with any clean up required at the event. In prior meetings Trustee Connie Gleasman expressed the need for this type of event.