BY CALEB ALEXANDER
What began as a simple suggestion regarding the soda machine at the village park in New Baden has turned into something complicated involving legal counsel. It was discussed at the last meeting of the village board and still not resolved.
Last month Randy Linthicum who was a trustee on the board then but is no longer originated the idea. Linthicum ran for mayor and gave up his trustee post as a result, so he had to leave the board as part of the changeover for the new fiscal year.
The old soda machine is not in good shape and there is one flavor that does not dispense. Randy proposed simply turning it over to the local park booster’s group. The few hundred dollars in profit from it can be used by the park boosters, he reasoned, just like they use all of their income, to be put back into the park for improvements.
After hearing about this suggestion, Justin Dunning from the park boosters sent a note to the village saying they would be willing and happy to take over the soda machine. He added that it would not be a “make or break” situation for the park boosters. The group is in charges of concessions in the park and willing to stock the machine.
Casey Pierce, who is the village treasurer, put together some numbers about the soda machine showing the income it generated the past few years. This ranged from almost $500 in 2019 to $952 in 2017. The most recent fiscal year income from the machine was $764.40 for the village. These totals are arrived at by comparing the sales from the machine with the cost of the soda put into it.
Nicole Pederson, a village board member, said she thought it was a good idea to give the machine to the park boosters but the Village Attorney, Luke Behme, had some comments to slow down the progress of this idea.
The laws are very clear, he said, about the village giving any income away. This soda income is public money and it just cannot be given away. He said the lease agreement between the village and soda company needs to be examined to see if there is anything in it where the village can assign it to another entity. The park boosters is a registered non-profit in Illinois.
Other questions that have to be answered according to the attorney include if the village relinquishes the lease, will it be okay with the soda company, Excel of Breese. Is there something in the lease to allow this is important to know, Behme said. It could turn out that Excel may end up leasing the machine to the park boosters, he also said.
Linthicum said he would be willing to donate a rebuilt or refurbished machine to the park boosters if necessary.
The mayor said the discussion’s purpose was mainly to see if the village wants to move forward with this idea and no one has objected. Stay tuned.