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May 29, 2024

Sangamon Valley Water District Cancels Illegal Gift Card Giving; Blames Watchdogs –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On December 23, 2022

Champaign County, IL. (ECWd) –

In November we received a tip about the Sangamon Valley Public Water District’s (“SVPWD”) announcement of a gift card give-a-way, consisting of $200 gift cards given to 16 “needy” families.

Knowing this to be an impermissible gifting of public funds, we posited some questions to the district, asking what authority grants them permission to gift these public funds, which fund the monies are coming out of, and board minutes where the board approved the gifting of public funds.

The first response from water district employee Kerry Gifford indicated that the Illinois EPA gave millions of dollars in grants to the SVPWD, and they earmarked some of it to give away to residents.

We then asked the Illinois EPA if their grants were to be used for giving grant money to private individuals, the IEPA response indicated no grant authorized the gifts.

When we inquired again to the SVPWD about what we learned from the IEPA, Gifford responded and accused me of “taking what I said out of context and attempting to turn it around against me to my board.”

Gifford did not respond when asked to clarify anything taken out of context.

Instead, like something out of the mouth of an angry child who got the smaller piece of birthday cake, Gifford caused the SVPWD’s webpage and Facebook page to cast “blame” on us for questioning their unlawful gifting of public funds.

In Gifford’s mind, we caused him to seek legal counsel, who told him he could not gift away public funds, but it is still our fault for asking in the first place.

We did get a good laugh out of the posting on SVPWD’s webpage, as the end result was compliance with the law.

If anyone knows of any public body in Illinois, that gave away gift cards to employees or anyone else during the Christmas holiday season, we would love to know about it, so drop us a line.

When public bodies start giving taxpayer money away it’s a clear indicator they are taxing beyond their need for the services being provided.  Maybe in the future, they would reduce tax levies or fees being charged so that everyone is treated equally.

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4 Comments
  • Dave
    Posted at 11:25h, 23 December Reply

    Nice job John!

  • Vince Koers
    Posted at 16:11h, 23 December Reply

    We can only wish that our current federal government believed in this same principle. Daniel Boone, while he was a setting congressman, was reportedly returning home from a congressional session wherein congress had considered and voted some $12,000 to support a local charitable hospital which had suffered a fire.

    As Boone was riding horseback, he approached one of his neighbors plowing, and slowed his pace to meet h at the end of a row to ask for his vote in the coming election, and the farmer turned him down, citing Boone’s support in spending public tax money for a private need. The farmer opined that he personally might contribute, if asked, and that any in congress was free to similarly donate their personal funds, but that congress has no business spending public money for private needs.

    Where has this concept gone?

  • Dan Orton
    Posted at 00:12h, 24 December Reply

    Hampshire IL donated a taxpayer owned truck to the American Legion Post of Geneva IL, another municipality. They also awarded a grant of about $40,000 to a private residential property (where a family lives and runs a business from their home) to renovate it, because it is on the edge of the business district where businesses get large “Facade Grants” from the town. Here is the truck donation:

    Background. The Village recently replaced a 2007 Ford F250 Pickup assigned to the Sewer
    Division with a 2018 Dodge Pickup. The 2007 truck is no longer needed for municipal purposes
    and requires disposal.
    Analysis. Village Administration desires authorization to contribute this truck to American
    Legion Fox River-Geneva Post 75 (Post 75). Post 75 along with it partners, Gun Barrel Coffee,
    Roy’s Place and Reload Auto Detail, will be rehabilitating this vehicle and will ultimately donate
    it to a veteran in need. A letter from Post 75 follows this Agenda Supplement.
    Recommendation. Staff is recommending adoption of the attached resolution declaring the 2007
    Ford F250 previously used by the Sewer Division as surplus and obsolete and donating this
    vehicle to American Legion Fix River-Geneva Post 75.

  • Mary Carlisle
    Posted at 21:31h, 28 December Reply

    McLean County spent $6275.34 on mugs and hot chocolate for Christmas gifts to County employees.

    Last Christmas Normal throw a holiday luncheon and handed out gift cards totaling $7,670:.

    H/T Diane Benjamin, BLNNews

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