In spite of laying off six employees,
two each in the fire, police and street departments, the city will
still be looking at some red ink for the upcoming fiscal year, which
begins May 1.
Figures presented by Prather Monday
night showed anticipated revenues of $3,902,068 for the general fund
and expense requests of $4,086,245. That leaves a deficit of
$184,177, the figure the council will be voting on at an adjourned
regular meeting next Tuesday.
However, according to insurance
chairman Glenn Shelton, the city hopes to reduce that figure by at
least $100,000. That is the amount the city can save if all four of
the unions representing city employees agree to a change in their
health insurance plan.
The unions, which represent
firefighters, police, street workers and clerical workers, have 60
days to decide to accept the new plan, Shelton said.
The new plan will include both an HMO
and a PPO option. Costs to employees for prescription drugs may be
higher than the current $5, but the new plan will pay for complete
physical examinations, which was not included in the old plan.
Shelton said he believed all four unions would adopt the new
This coming year, the city will save
about $180,000 because of the layoffs of the six employees. Next
year the savings will rise to about $240,000, because the city will
not be paying unemployment compensation for the laid-off workers,
"We pored over the budget. We cut back
to the bare bones." He said even though it helped to reduce the
deficit, he hated to lay off the six employees.
"If I could figure out a way to put
them back in, I'd love to do it," he said.
Mayor Beth Davis, who has been asking
for more money to fund the upcoming sesquicentennial celebration,
also found ways to cut her office budget, paring away another $4,500
to bring it down to $29,549.
She said the budget needs money for
postage and supplies to promote the city's 150th birthday this
August, but that she will ask for less money next year. Any money
raised by the sesquicentennial will go back into the city's general
fund, she said.
To shore up the budget, the council
also voted to transfer the entire $50,000 in the fund for
construction of a west-side fire station and $80,000 in the
equipment rentals fund to the general fund. Alderman Benny Huskins,
a long-time supporter of a west-side fire station, voted against
The council will see final figures and
vote on the budget at an adjourned regular meeting April 29, before
the work session. They will also vote to name Deputy City Clerk
Melanie Riggs to fill the unexpired term of City Clerk Juanita
Josserand, who is resigning as of April 30.
In other business, the council rejected
a request from Jason Steffens of Capone's and Brad Letterle of
Chameleon's to block off portions of Sangamon Street for a festival
from 3 p.m. to midnight on June 7. The festival plan called for two
bands, beer trucks and snow fences to contain the area.
Shelton said he was concerned about
blocking off a public street and also was not in favor of this kind
of activity. Huskins said he was concerned about setting a
precedent. "If we do this for one, we open up a can of worms and
will have to do it for all others."
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Alderman Dave Armbrust said he could
not support the festival because it was not tied up with any city
activity, as the sesquicentennial will be.
Prather said he had heard from several
people living on the block that they had not been contacted about
the proposed street blocking. He also noted that it would set a
Steffens said he recognized that this
was a "first-time private entity" asking to block a street. The
Steffens family has been trying to establish Sangamon Street as a
desirable place to be, he said, and also the festival would provide
the city with additional sales tax revenue.
"We are trying to better our business.
The better we do, the better you do. We are trying to bring people
to Sangamon Street."
Mayor Davis, who supported the plan,
said she thought the council should try and think "a little bit
differently sometimes" and she would like to see more activities
downtown. "Other communities are doing this and thriving," she said.
Some aldermen thought such street
activities might be all right but needed more study.
"It might not be a bad thing in the
future to do something like this," Alderman Pat Madigan said, "but
we don't have security guidelines in place and we don't know how to
prevent underage drinking. I don't think we should turn the downtown
into one big spring and summer party. That affects the security of
downtown businesses." However, he said he would like for the council
to discuss a plan for street activity in the future.
Fuhrer said he would like to see such
festivities in areas other than public streets. "Other towns do this
in parking lots or in private areas," he said. "So many things
aren't worked out for safety." He also noted anybody could petition
for a street activity, "maybe block off a street and have a
"A lot more thought needs to go into
Only Alderman Bill Melton favored the
proposal. He said each petition could be looked at on its own
The council also denied a petition to
replace a brick sidewalk at 316 N. Sherman St. at the city's
expense. Glenn Shelton, who represents that area, said that while
the sidewalk might be in good condition for an able-bodied person,
it is a hazard for those in wheelchairs. He said residents of a
group home on Sherman Street might find it difficult to negotiate
and have to detour into the street.
The council also approved spending
$370,250 for property and casualty insurance, a 13 percent increase
over last year's cost. The cost is up because of the number of
claims filed. This insurance also covers workman's compensation
claims. A representative of the company, Independent Risk Managers
of Peoria, said a safety expert could educate workers about
procedures to reduce claims.
The council voted unanimously to refund
the $695 building permit fee to the American Legion. The Legion had
to get the permit when it started rebuilding after it was destroyed
by fire because the formalities were not yet in place to put it in
the enterprise zone.
Before the meeting, the council heard a
presentation by Joe Pisula, vice-president of Environmental
Management Corporation, the firm that manages the city's sewer
plant, regarding allowing the firm to manage the city's street
department as well. Don Osborne, the street superintendent, will be
retiring in July.
took no action on the proposal.