City council: $1.2 million change order for Project Jackpot feeder approved

The Rochelle city council unanimously approved a $1.2 million change order to its Project Jackpot feeder extension project Monday that will include all labor and materials needed to complete the new power distribution feeder to the east building.

2021 tax levy ordinance approved

ROCHELLE — The Rochelle city council unanimously approved a $1.2 million change order to its Project Jackpot feeder extension project Monday that will include all labor and materials needed to complete the new power distribution feeder to the east building.  

The still-anonymous business, which has purchased the former Nippon Sharyo buildings, is investing in the site for an announcement and opening in the future and is said to be making a capital investment of over $130 million and adding 150 jobs to the area. 

The change order was made due to constraints on material and time sensitivity with Project Jackpot. Rochelle Municipal Utilities contracted Whittaker Construction and Excavating, Inc for the work. That company was selected to complete the Prologis Park Substation project on April 12 and has worked well with the electric department and have proven they can complete the work in a safe and timely manner, the city’s meeting agenda said.  

“The reason we went to do a change order with Whittaker is because they're here and already doing the work on the substation and if we were to go out for bid and take the time to go through all the steps, we wouldn't get the project done in the time needed to have Jackpot energized at full load,” RMU Superintendent of Electric Operations Blake Toliver said.

The previously-budgeted amount for the work was $896,000. City Manager Jeff Fiegenschuh said the change order money is coming out of a $2 million incentive and is not in addition to what the city has agreed to incentive-wise with Project Jackpot.

Tax levy

The city unanimously approved a 2021 tax levy at the meeting that would result in the city collecting $2.8 million, an increase of three percent. 

Last year, the city’s Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) was $259.7 million and its property tax rate was 1.046230 per $100 of EAV. The city collected $2.717 million in property taxes.

For 2021, Ogle County has estimated the City’s EAV at $270.9 million, which is an increase of over $11 million, resulting in the three percent increase. Based on the estimated EAV, the tax rate would decrease .012196 per $100 EAV for the three percent option. 

“Every year I've been on the council we've reduced the city's rate of taxes,” Councilman Tom McDermott said. “I know our income is going up, but that's because the EAV went up. The percentage the city is actually charging the taxpayers is actually going down. The city has actually lowered the tax rate, it's just that there's more businesses and industry here that ran our EAV up.”

The proposed 2021 levy includes funding the police and fire pension funds as recommended by the city’s actuarial studies.

Hangar rates

The council unanimously approved raising hangar rental rates at Koritz Field/Rochelle Municipal Airport. The increases will take effect Jan. 1, 2022. The last rate increase was applied Jan. 1, 2017.

Airport management requested the increases due to recent increases in operating expenses/outside services/supplies and the city’s funds spent on the five percent local portion of the $4.2 million in paved surface improvements since 2019.

Housing study

The council heard a presentation on preliminary findings of a Northwest Illinois Workforce Housing study from Daniel Payette of the Blackhawk Hills Regional Council. 

Payette said there’s next to a zero percent vacancy rate for residential rental housing in the area and what used to rent for $800 per month is now renting for $1,200 a month and is less affordable. He added that despite current high costs of construction, there is a need for blue collar housing along with senior housing. 

Rochelle has a “significant” waitlist for public housing and Payette said that other small communities have a short waitlist. 

Rental stock in the area is old and needs an inspection process to ensure quality units, Payette said. 

Payette said Rochelle has had a lot of focus on industry, but there potentially could be more focus on residential housing.

Halloween

The council discussed the possibility of holding Halloween trick or treat hours on the last Saturday of October each year rather than on Oct. 31 as it has in the past due to citizens that reached out to the city with interest in the change. No action was taken.

Never Forget Week

Mayor John Bearrows read and presented a proclamation to the Rochelle Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution designating this week Never Forget Week in honor of the 100th Anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Representatives from the DAR accepted the proclamation, made a presentation and gifted the city with a Never Forget garden marker. 

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