Brocton approves big change

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BROCTON – Brocton village government is moving out of the community center building located in the village park.

That decision followed an executive session during the Wednesday, Aug. 14, village board meeting. After coming out of the executive decision to discuss real estate and personnel issues, the board voted to purchase a building in the town’s business section that was formerly a grocery story and now houses an antique business operated by village board member Debbie Porter.

A significant part of the discussion earlier in the meeting focused on the deteriorating condition of the community center. During a recent annual spraying for insects, it was discovered the building has termites. The estimated cost to treat for termites is $1,200.

“The termites are working on the window framing and the wall around the windows,” said village mayor Dennis Cary.

Problems with the building go beyond termites.

A contractor was hired recently to install a new window in one of the restrooms and more damage than expected was found after he removed some siding to start the work. The contractor asked for another $3,500 to make the additional repairs and Porter instructed him to put everything back as it was until the board made a decision.

Things got a little more complicated when the village submitted an insurance claim for the damaged window.

Cary said the insurance company has agreed to pay $6,000, but the village must cover the expense to repair the slope of the roof. He added failure to fix the roof to the insurance company’s satisfaction will result in a policy cancelation.

“We’re going to have to get an engineer in here to look at thebuilding,” said Cary while pointing out places where the ceiling is sagging and noting paneling is pulling away from the walls.

Porter added the insurance company representative told here after the roof repairs are made the company will send an adjustor to make sure the work complies with what the company wants done.

According to Cary, purchasing the former retail building creates the best possible solution because the community center will likely be unusable during a period of extensive repairs. He said the move to another building does not mean the village board is abandoning its responsibilities to the community center.

“We don’t want to see that building go,” said Cary, adding he plans to pursue a United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development Grant for money to get the community center stabilized and suitable for community public use.

He was not sure about a timetable for converting the store building into the new village hall. Much depends on how fast Porter can remove her inventory and the property transfer occurs. Also, some work is needed to the interior for creating office space for village files and records.

Once the new village hall space is in use, attention can turn to the community center.

“Our main focus is to get that community center repaired,” said Cary.

Other insurance claims were also discussed during the business meeting.

Porter said repairs at the village water tower to stop a small leak came to $8,133, and that claim was turned over to the insurance provider. The settlement on the claim, she said, comes to a little more than $7,000.

She is also ready to start a claim process for storm damage to the village garage’s roof. An estimate to fix the roof came in at $8,900.

“We can’t let it go. That building’s got to be maintained,” Porter said.

The board was asked what is being done to demolish and clean up dilapidated buildings.

Cary said the expense of demolition is such the village cannot eliminate all such buildings at one time or even on regular intervals.

“We got two down in two years and spent close to $50,000,” said Cary, adding that was only possible thanks a large and anonymous donation to help get the work done.

Trustee Richard Grise pointed out the village has designated money from the video gaming tax go into a reserve fund for demolition work. He said the village is not ignoring the problem, but it lacks sufficient funds to take any action this year.

“There is $7,600 in the video gaming tax,” said Grise. “We are saving money to do that.”

On a more positive note, auditor Matt Morgan of Feller and Kuester CPA in Champaign presented the annual audit report. He reported no significant findings and confirmed the village finished its fiscal year with balances in the accounts indicating money is being managed to the budget.

“We gave the highest level opinion we can give on an audit,” said Morgan.

He noted the sometime-troubled water fund closed the year with a $2,000 surplus, despite the need to make repairs. His comments regarding the water fund indicated a need to continue building reserves as a cushion against future large repair bills.

Morgan also said the auditing firm plans to work with Cary to find ways for maximizing the levy based on the village’s equalized assessed value (EVA), or the taxable value of property.

“As long as you continue this way, the village can sustain itself for a long time,” said Morgan.