ST. JOHN — With extra money left in the town's budget, the St. John Town Council recently voted to give town employees a bonus check, including the town manager, who was awarded a significant increase in pay.
With a 4-1 vote, the council approved to give bonuses to all the town’s employees during its Thursday meeting. Full-time will receive a $1,000 bonus and part-time employees will receive $500 bonuses. Elected officials are not included.
Town Manager Steve Kil, who has a salary of $110,323, was awarded a $25,000 bonus.
Councilman Mike Forbes, who proposed the motion, said the council just received the quarterly financial reports for the town. Based on the report, Forbes said, “things are looking great.”
“Revenues are up. Expenses are down,” Forbes said. “Typically around this time of the year we do bonuses for our employees. It’s a common practice over the past few years.”
The second quarter report for 2019 shows the general fund expenses to be around 4% under budget and the revenue to be about 6% over projection, Kil told The Times.
"This information shows that expenses are under budget and revenue is over budget, meaning we are running the town very efficiently and fiscally responsibly," Kil said in an email.
The general fund cash balance at the beginning of the year (Jan 1, 2019) was $3,672,481.84 and as of July 3, 2019, it is $3,941,791.50, Kil reported.
"This has been a trend for several years now and is why the town enjoys the second lowest tax rate in Lake County, does not issue tax anticipation warrants, and has almost no general fund debt," Kil said.
Forbes said Kil’s bonus is being awarded based on “his exceptional work for the town,” referencing road projects and Shops 96 development.
The reaction from the audience in attendance of the meeting was not favorable. Laughing and remarks like “You’re a joke” and “Shame on you” rang out after the vote.
Council Vice President Gerald Swets voted against the motion.
In other business, the zoning change to allow for duplexes in the next phase of the Three Springs subdivision did not get an approval during the meeting.
The motion made by Forbes in favor of the rezone failed because the lack of a second.
The Plan Commission had also given a “no recommendation” to the Town Council after the new proposal to rezone phase three of the subdivision was presented by engineer Doug Rettig, of DVG Inc. representing developer Dave Barick.
Before the vote was made, Forbes said the construction would actually raise property values, which was one concern raised by residents of the subdivision during public comment. Other issues included the potential dangers of having a gas pipeline easement within the lots of future homes.