Special Paris Town Board meeting on county tax coverage

About 40 people attended the special Paris Town Board meeting Tuesday on the town paying county taxes for residents.

The special Paris Town Board meeting to discuss the continuation of the town paying residents’ county taxes got under way at a little after 7 p.m.

Here are some of the comments and questions being discussed. We will update as they happen, so keep checking back to follow along:

First question: Was has the town tried to get the higher state tipping fees scaled back? Chairman Virgil Gentz said he has talked to three legislators as recently as this weekend, without much encouragement. A major stumbling block has been that the higher fees, while decreasing business at the Waste Management Pheasant Run Landfill, have not effected business elsewhere and that the state is actually reaping more revenue, as the higher fee was intended. Supervisor Ken Monson said “We thought hey this isn’t working out, but apparently it is” for the state. “They’re not even interested in talking about” decreasing the tipping fee.

How much money does the town have invested? $16 million, said Monson, invested in bonds through Johnson Bank. Proposed town budget calls for about $1.2 million in exopenditures.

Is there a plan for how to handle county taxes this year? Monson said supervisors likely have their own ideas, but the meeting tonight is to listen to the public’s ideas. Nothing has been decided.

Does the town have to be equal in how it pays county taxes going forward? The town attorney said since the town is paying the county taxes and not levying a tax it has a lot of flexibility. It could pay a common lump sum, a percentage or other methods.

How much did the town pay in county taxes for residents last year? About $1.1 million, said town Clerk Beverly McCumber.

How much does the town receive from Waste Management? $600,000 last year, said Ron Kammerzelt.

Comment from resident Randy Henning: “We’re very lucky to have any money coming from a place like Waste Management. … Things will change in the future and we could have a booming landfill again. Maybe we won’t. My comment is smoke it if you got it.” In response, Monson said “I think we need some bank to do some of the things we want to do to keep this town a town. I truly believe we need to do more to keep that money to use to keep this town a town.”

What was Waste Management’s reaction to backing out of their contract? Monson said current talks are about an amendment to the contract to keep the landfill viable and keep them int eh town. Kammerzelt said the feeling is the contract is good. There’s a clause calling for a $1.8 million payout if contract is closed. But town officials feel they are better off to keep talking and help the landfill stay operating. “We could play chicken.” Town attorney says Waste Management takes the position they are not in breach; town’s special counsel disagree. Gentz says “We want to remain as positive as we can.” Kammerzelt says that there is also thought that Illinois tipping fees may soon increase, making Pheasant Run more viable again.

Comment from another resident: We’re just in a slow time. I don’t think you have to panic. Illinois is going to want to get every dollar out of garbage too and we they do, they’ll be there.” Added Gentz: “They (Illinois) can see a cash cow too.”

Comment from Gentz: “I think the people of Paris are very well-informed. We don’t always agree.”

Has the town board been talking about a plan for how to handle county taxes? Gentz: “I want to listen some more.” Kammerzelt: “We ‘re trying to get at the number of what we are going to need to plug that hole (in the proposed budget).”

Comment from resident Robert LaBell: Interest income is expected to be $400,000; budget shortfall is $300,000. “I say pay the tax … You’re around or even a little ahead.”

Comment from Henry Billingsley: Most Paris residents would pay much less than $1,000 in county tax.

What is the term of the contract with Waste Management?: Kammerzelt: The current contract is still in effect, but suspended. The term is part of the amendment and is under negotiation.

Is Waste Management still making payments?: Yes. Gentz: “It was quite low compared to the hey day.” The payment is based on tonnage, which is down. Monson: Now averaging $60,000 per month. In the past, as much as $225,000 a month. Contract calls for a minimum payment of $150,000 a month. Kammerzelt said the town could enforce that, but Waste Management says it might close the landfill in that case.

Comment from Gentz: “The tipping fee is a killer, no doubt about it.”

Will 2012 taxes be effected? Yes, if any change is made in the amount of county taxes paid.

Final comments from Gentz: “You can see this town board really is concerned about the situation. I want to thank you for coming tonight.”

After the meeting, Gentz told me that he did not anticipate a final decision on what to do with county taxes to be made public until the town budget hearing on Monday, Nov. 21.



  1. Time for change says:

    The landfill will NOT close. They have WAY TO MUCH to lose. They are calling the town’s bluff. The town needs to hire some experienced corporate lawyers and get what’s owed. Then start new negotiations. Waste Management is playing hardball while the town is still playing kick ball.

  2. Marcy says:

    How can the budget hearing go on when they don’t know what they’re going to do? Monson said the Town has 16 million – look at a treasurer’s report and you’ll see there’s over 20 million. Does the Town board even know what they have? The Town may need experienced corporate lawyers, but we also need better board members. Gentz wants to listen more – to what? To who?? The people have spoken – we did that tonight.

  3. Jeff says:

    What bothers me the most is that the Board is so tight-lipped about so many things – while I understand that negotiations with WM have to remain confidential – when they give “non” answers it just frustrates people and makes themselves look bad and un-trustworthy. Why not share more about the direction they are headed? Why not at least throw out a few options/directions they may be considering? You can’t tell me that with a decision looming in less than 2 weeks they don’t at least have some options on the table.

    The only other comment I have is that I find it inexcusable that the residents have been given such a short notice about the possibility of our county taxes either not being paid or only partially paid. As a businessman that kind of lack of planning would not be tolerated – and as such the Board simply MUST pay the taxes in full this year and then develop a plan going into 2012 that will address this issue on a go-forward – basis, and in doing so be open and communicative with the residents of Paris Township.

  4. Bob says:

    Jeff, the reason that most residents don’t know what’s going on is because they never put any special meeting agendas, or minutes on the website. When I’m taking my kids to school, I don’t see anything about meetings on the school doors either. That really bothers me. At last week’s meeting, the board kept saying that they’re “discussing things with Waste Management”, but how can this be? Either the board is having meetings without the residents knowing, or what they said about discussing things with waste management, is untrue – they cannot have it both ways. I don’t see the landfill closing anytime soon. And, I agree, a two week notice of possibly paying our own taxes is a great lack of planning. From what I’ve heard at prior board meetings, this shortage of monthly payments has been happening for over a year. Last week I saw people at the meeting that have never been to a meeting before; that itself should tell the board something. The people do not want their taxes higher, especially when the town is sitting on such a large nest egg. What else would the board possibly want all that money for? What are their plans? Mr. Gentz was wrong – the people of Paris are NOT informed – the town board doesn’t allow it.

  5. Time for change says:

    Mr. Gentz is wrong a lot. He never really says anything except of course his catch phrases like we listen. And who are you listening to? There are very few residents that show up to the average meeting. So much of what the Board does has such a cloud of secrecy around it that it seems obvious that it is intentional. If this was a town input meeting (of this importance) shouldn’t every town member be aware of it? A simple post card to all the residents would not cost much and then residents WOULD be informed. Most of the people in this town don’t have a clue what is really going on with Paris or this Board. Mr. Gentz made my jaw drop more than once when he said the residents of Paris are very informed. That is so ridiculously UNTRUE. Time for a change.

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