Governor signs bill to pay cities

The Waterloo City Council on Monday night honored the state champion Waterloo High School soccer team. The Bulldogs finished the season with a record of 25-3-1 and the Class 2A IHSA state title, the first such honor for a sports program in WHS history.

The Illinois General Assembly passed Senate Bill 2039 Monday morning, and municipalities around the state breathed a collective sigh of relief.

The Illinois House of Representatives passed the bill 107-1-1 on Dec. 2, and the Senate 53-0 on Dec. 7. Gov. Bruce Rauner signed it into law later Monday.

Senate Bill 2039  authorizes distribution of Motor Fuel Tax and Use Tax, and casino, video gaming and 9-1-1 revenues owed by the state.

Some of the revenues haven’t been paid since June, while others were paid in July and August. All of them represent monies desperately needed by municipalities across the state, many of which are struggling to operate deficit budgets without depleting reserves.

“Though our state remains in need of a fiscally responsible year-long budget, this is a step to help provide much needed funds that are owed to our municipalities and other agencies,” said Rep. Jerry Costello II (D-Smithton).

Motor fuel taxes are collected on gas sales and paid back to municipalities based on population. Waterloo and Columbia each receive about $20,000 a month MFT payments and were last paid in June.

Use taxes are paid to municipalities to compensate for some of the sales taxes paid out-of-state and for some online sales, and can also total as much as $20,000 a month.

About $28,000 and $14,000 more is outstanding for gaming revenue for Waterloo and Columbia, respectively.

“The delay of disbursements of MFT funds in particular is a serious concern for the city of Columbia,” said Columbia City Administrator Jimmy Morani. “We recently completed a resurfacing project on North Main Street and have other roadway improvements planned. Since these funds are earmarked, we must utilize them for these types of projects as well as regular maintenance of city streets.”

Illinois Municipal League Executive Director Brad Cole released a statement Tuesday informing municipalities the state comptroller plans to distribute all the funds by mid to late December.

In other city council news:

• The Waterloo City Council on Monday honored the state champion Waterloo High School soccer team.
“I couldn’t think of a better group to win it all for Waterloo,” said head soccer coach Chad Holden.
Mayor Tom Smith thanked Holden and the players for their hard work both on and off the soccer pitch.
“You’ve done an outstanding job in representing Waterloo and Monroe County,” he said.

• At its Nov. 23 meeting, the Waterloo City Council approved the tax levy for fiscal year 2015-16 and the purchase of a 953D track front-end loader in the amount of $180,000 from Vogt-Baczynski Farms. Waterloo public works director Tim Birk said this deal is a considerable savings for the city and there is a need for the equipment.

• The Columbia City Council on Monday approved a special event permit for Relay for Life of Monroe County. In 2016, the annual fundraiser for the American Cancer Society will move to Metter Park in Columbia.

“We’re just excited to bring it to Columbia,” said co-chairman Jenny Agnew.

Relay for Life will be May 14, 2016.

Additional reporting by Corey Saathoff.

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