Tilton city administrator looks to move village forward

·6 min read

May 20—TILTON — Tilton City Administrator Tiffany "Jones" McClellan had been treasurer with the village for 15 years, but her family ties go back further.

Her dad, Richard Jones, was treasurer before her for 26 years. Her grandpa, Herschel Jones, was a previous mayor.

She has photos of them, both now passed, displayed in her office. She said her father passed away in November, and she was able to tell him about her new position.

Tiffany became city administrator in September 2022.

"(The board) wanted to do planning to make sure that the village was going to be okay in the event that (Dave Phillips) did retire," she said.

The board named a new mayor Thursday night. The position will be part-time in the future. For the next few years, it will be semi part-time, Tiffany said.

She's going through city manager classes online now for her certification. She went to St. Mary's and Schlarman, and has degrees through Danville Area Community College and went to Southern Illinois University. She then worked for an attorney for seven years before she came to the village.

She has done paralegal work, doing title work and closings.

That helped her with the village in looking at properties.

"It's nice to have the background I have from the real estate, from the law firm, because I can see if there's liens on the property," Tiffany said about finding information more easily on properties.

The board agreed to having a part-time mayor and city administrator.

"It's just a direction that we wanted to go in for the future. It's nice to have two people who can make decisions, rather than just having the mayor here. It just makes it nice because I'm here all the time. I can interact with the employees and make the smaller decisions..." Tiffany said

With retired Mayor Dave Phillips living a block away from Tiffany, he also will not be hard to find for questions.

Looking ahead

Tiffany said the village has been moving into the future.

"We're small town. We're coming into the future a little bit," she said.

The public can watch village board meetings live the third Thursday of the month on a link on the village's website.

"We've done pretty well with developing the town in the last 10 years. We've got a lot of things coming in," she said.

She said they're getting ready to get the former ramps property finally, just north of Dollar General. They've been working with state Rep. Mike Marron's office and the Illinois Department of Transportation to get the property turned over to the village.

"So hopefully we'll have something new there," she said of new development.

The property is going to be sold to the village for the appraised value, Tiffany said. There is excess property the village will receive too.

"We're pretty sure we have developers to come," she added about the property, and of the up to three or four potential developers.

One development they've talked to and are hoping for is a Culver's restaurant.

"We have talked to them. It's not guaranteed. We're really hoping," Tiffany said. "They're very interested."

"One thing good about Tilton, we don't charge a property tax to our citizens. We have a lot of good incentives for businesses to come in. We have our TIF (Tax Increment Financing) districts. We're looking at setting up an enterprise zone. I mean there's just a lot of good things about Tilton," she said.

Already, the new cannabis dispensary north of Ross Lane is being built in front of True Grit Fitness. It could open in July.

Tiffany said it's in a good location too, with not too much residential there.

"There's a few people that complain about it, but for the most part we've had pretty good support," she said.

R.P. Home and Harvest is becoming Runnings.

"I think that's a positive for the town," Tiffany said.

Tilton also is increasing its police force to try to stay up with booming development.

It at one time had three full-time officers, and now will have eight officers.

"It's just nice to have consistency, and once you get that development and you get those extra dollars, you can slate (the money) for that. When a business, if they have to do a complaint, they don't want to see a different person every time. Citizens don't want to deal with different people all the time," Tiffany said.

They've been having one to two officers per shift, and it's been working great, she added.

"They've become very professional. We're pleased," she said.

The village also is going toward a full-time ambulance service. Ambulances have been having to take more patients to Champaign.

"We want to make sure that we're taken care of. That's kind of a big undertaking (to finance that)," Tiffany said.

"For a small town, these are really big things," she said.

The dispensary estimates about $10 million in annual taxable sales. Tilton would get about $262,000 from that.

"That's two to three full-time people. We like to put that back into our community and help as best we can for everybody," Tiffany said.

The village has annual clean-ups and other family events.

Summer of Music concerts at Thomas Park's stage also are starting May 27. The free music will be from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The Village Grill will have food and drinks.

Tiffany said these events bring people together.

"It's nice to get together with your community, and talk to people you haven't seen," she said.

Another goal Tiffany has for the village is to be more competitive for grants. She'd like to work on that more.

Education also isn't super expensive, and if they could train some people, it would be worth it, she said about grant writing.

She said her city administrator classes talk about coaching people and giving employees challenges.

"We have some great employees here," she added, saying that they are usually up for challenges she gives them. "I think a lot of great things can come."

The village has about 85 employees. The fire and ambulance services employ the most with about 30 each.

The fire department is volunteer. They don't have a fire protection district.

About 25 full-time employees are with police, ambulance, public works, building and grounds, information technology and village hall.

Residents can see upcoming events on the village's website and Facebook page.

"We've been having a lot more community involvement too," Tiffany said.

In her free time, Tiffany, 48, loves spending time with her family, including her husband, Herbert, and son Samuel. She's a grandma too with a 1 and a 1/2-year-old grandson.

She credits everything she's done in her life to her son.

She too likes to travel, and will be a part of the "Comedy Hour" production this summer with Gregory's Academy Of The Arts. She hasn't been in a play for decades, but loves to act.