MTD Managing Director salary far exceeds other employees’ pay

In 2017, the MTD awarded Gnadt, who has worked at MTD since 1995 and has been director since July 1, 2014, a five-year contract during which he will be awarded an annual 2.75 percent pay raise. The contract was approved unanimously by the MTD board members and runs until June 30, 2022.

Concerns over COVID-19 lead to cuts in county jail population

Despite sharp spikes in population, such as a population of 173 on March 24, the number has stayed below the 2019 daily average since safety precautions began earlier this month. As of March 27, the number had fallen back to 157 people — with 11 serving prison sentences, 128 awaiting trial and the rest on Electronic Home Detention.

“We have taken steps to encourage officers to not bring in inmates if they don’t need to and have also been working with the State’s Attorney’s office to identify inmates who don’t pose a safety risk who can be released from jail,” Sheriff Dustin Heuerman wrote in an email to

Informants, guns and travel: Seized funds free police to spend on wide range of items

Under state and federal laws known as civil asset forfeiture, police departments may seize property – such as cars and cash – they believe is used in criminal activity. The owners of the property may never themselves be charged with a crime and getting property back could take years and involve costly attorney fees.

In some cases, the funds from seizures are substantial, especially in small urban cities in central Illinois. The City of Champaign, for example, which took in at least $1.17 million in forfeiture funds between 2014 and mid-2019, spent at least $7,000 at restaurants such as Hooters, Arby’s and In-N-Out Burgers and utility/internet usage charges from July 2017 to August 2018.

Champaign-Urbana Amtrak ridership continues to decline

Champaign-Urbana Amtrak ridership has decreased from Illinois Terminal by 20 percent from 2013 to 2018, according to Champaign County Regional Planning Commission (CCRPC) data.

Through October and November, Amtrak trains had departed around 29 minutes later than their scheduled departure time on average from Champaign-Urbana. Some trains between the two months had even departed up to one to two hours later than their scheduled departure, according to an Amtrak status database.

Climate change and poverty contribute to local flooding

On-going flooding still plagues the Champaign area, despite multi-million-dollar changes made to local water areas over a decade ago.

Based on observations from Champaign’s COOP weather station, not only have water levels in Illinois have been increasing about 0.6-inches every decade since 1899, but the daily precipitation has also grown in the same time span. Over the last 20 years, Champaign has been doused with the highest rate of precipitation on record.

‘Move to Work’ program attributed to higher average household incomes in Champaign County

The national average income per household receiving assistance from a housing authority is approximately $12,000 a year, but in Champaign County the average income per household is $17,500.

David Northern, Chief Executive Officer of the Housing Authority of Champaign County, attributes the higher income to a work program started in 2011.

Robin Kelly’s campaign targeting fundraising for 2020 cycle

In the 2018 election cycle, Congresswoman Robin Kelly spent $879,435 in total – one of the lowest amounts spent – defeating David Merkle by 183,816 to 43,875 in votes.

Kelly’s largest expense was for her fundraising consultant Lauren Cvengros, through LBH Chicago, which cost $252,911. Although the 2020 cycle is not yet complete, Kelly has only spent $211,387 in total. Her greatest expense was again for her fundraising consultant, Cvengros, which cost $73,681.

Small budget, big impact: Champaign weatherization program reaches more homes

With a budget of $600,000 the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission Weatherization program often can be overlooked. However, it helps many low-income families save money and get access to basic housing needs.

According to the CCRPC 2018 annual report, the average material cost per home was $7,471. 39 homes received these services in 2018, an increase of 16 homes from the previous year. Champaign County Regional Planning Commission’s Michael Hunter said he would like to see it increased, with more houses applying and obtaining services.

Funds to improve quality of life for Champaign-Urbana residents insufficient

Communities eligible for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding in the City of Urbana has increased, meaning the money available cannot meet the growing needs, according to a CDBG Coalition report published early this year.

Urbana is one of many cities in the nation that are part of the long-standing CDBG program, administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The local program is monitored by the Grants Management Division.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger targeted media buys in 2018

Republican representative Adam Kinzinger poured over one-fourth of his $2.5 million-plus campaign budget into media production and buys during the 2017-2018 election cycle.

However, since his first congressional campaign during the 2009-2010 election cycle, Kinzinger has traditionally spent the most money on media production and buys, which is purchased airtime that can be used to run political advertisements.