Township move to cut costs
KANKAKEE — Kankakee Township is moving its offices down the street, which a top official says will save taxpayers a lot of money.
A few months ago, the township bought the old Bill Balthun Automotive building, 908 S. Schuyler Ave. It plans to move in there next week from its longtime offices on the fourth floor of the downtown Clock Tower Centre, 187 S. Schuyler.
The township purchased the Balthun property for $160,000, even though it was appraised about twice that, said Larry Enz, the township’s supervisor.
Throughout the last decade, the township has spent $330,000 in rent at the Clock Tower Centre. With renovations, the Balthun building will end up costing taxpayers about $200,000, Enz said.
With the spending reduction, Enz said, the township might be able to lower its tax levy — the total amount of money it seeks from property taxpayers.
The township also is saving money by having the township’s road department and office employees, including Enz, do the renovations, Enz said.
“The last couple of weeks, we’ve been closing on Fridays so we could work on the building. There’s a lot of preparations for the move. We have tons and tons of files. It’s a mess right now in our office,” Enz said.
He said he didn’t understand why his predecessors failed to think long term and save taxpayers’ money. At the same time, he said voters might mistakenly assume the township is wasting money by buying a building.
Besides saving money, Enz said, the Balthun building will be more visible to the community. In the building, the township hopes to hold job fairs and provide activities for senior citizens. It also could serve as a warming or cooling center for residents during extreme changes in temperature, Enz said.
“None of this should increase our expenses at all,” Enz said. “The location will be about a half a block away from a bus stop. I’m in the process of contacting the bus company to see if they can move the bus stop to across the street. Since a lot of our customers are poor and do ride the bus, I think they would do that.”
Under state law, townships’ three mandated duties are providing general assistance to the poor, assessing the value of properties and maintaining rural roads.
The downtown offices involve the general assistance and assessment functions, while the road department is on Seventh Avenue.
Enz and the general assistance staff will start working in the new building next week, and the assessor is expected to move in next spring. The assessor’s portion of the building needs more work, Enz said.