Bates offers an update
on problem properties
City attorney Bill Bates gave the
council an update on the issues surrounding problem properties in
Regarding a property on Kickapoo owned by a Mr. Mason and rented
by a Mr. Gates, he said that he has been after both of them to get
the cleanup started.
The result is that Mason has evicted Gates and started working on
cleaning the place up himself.
Bates is also pursuing cleanup of two properties, one on Decatur
Street and another on Fourth, that are owned by a Mr. Harris.
Harris went to court on Thursday and was held in contempt by
Judge Thomas Funk for not complying with the court order.
Harris is scheduled to appear before the judge again on Oct. 29.
Bates said that Harris was going the route of Mr. McCann and had
filed a rather long pleading regarding all the money he has spent on
appraisals, having the property mowed and maintained, and having
some garages taken down, but Funk didn't find the pleading terribly
In regard to the fast track demolitions that were approved at the
last meeting, Bates said that he has filed all the paperwork to
obtain names and addresses of all the interested parties. As soon as
he receives that information, letters can be sent and the property
can be posted as targeted for demolition.
Park district requests Heritage Days funds
Chuck Conzo of the Heritage Days committee and Marsha Greenslate
of the Lincoln Park District addressed the city council on Tuesday
night with a request to transfer funds in the Heritage Days account
to the park district.
Alderwoman Melody Anderson agreed with the request, saying that
the Heritage Days account has been under the city's umbrella since
its inception. She wants to remove the account from the city's books
so that the city will no longer be responsible for those funds.
Chuck Conzo of the Heritage Days committee addressed the group,
saying that the committee had met, and they do want to continue an
annual Fourth of July event. He said that the park district is
interested in carrying on many of the celebration events that take
place at their facility on Primm Road.
He noted that the children's parade would still be on city
streets; the committee would like to continue the flea market in
Scully Park; and the fireworks would still take place at the park
Additionally, the committee is requesting that $2,500 be donated
to three local commemoratives. They wish to donate to the
restoration of the Civil War soldier statue, a plaque that is to be
placed on the Logan County Courthouse commemorating the Abraham
Lincoln speech of 1858, and to the upkeep costs of the kiosk
purchased by Main Street Lincoln and located on the courthouse lawn.
Mayor Keith Snyder said the fund balance in the account is
slightly less than $12,000. With $2,500 going to the causes, that
would leave approximately $9,500 that would be turned over to the
Anderson said she had a concern about the city just writing a
check and turning it over to the park district. She wanted some
assurances that the money would indeed be used for annual Fourth of
July celebrations, and if at some point the celebration ceased to
be, the remaining funds would come back to the city.
Greenslate told the council that the costliest part of the
celebration each year is the fireworks, which average about $8,500
She noted that in the past, the Heritage Days group sought
donations to help cover the costs of the celebration, including a
$2,500 contribution from the city.
She anticipates that they will continue seeking donations for the
annual event and dip into the existing funds only to cover any
shortfalls in their fundraising efforts. She also assured the
council that the money would never be used for park district general
Alderman David Wilmert suggested that perhaps the city could
require a periodic accounting of the funds, and Anderson felt like
that was a good idea.
In the end, Conzo said that the $2,500 for the three causes was a
ballpark figure and that he didn't have specific figures at the
moment. It was noted that if the city was going to write the checks,
they had to have specifics. Conzo said he would get that info to
Anderson before next Monday night's voting meeting.
At the next voting meeting the council will decide whether or not
to turn the funds over to the park district.
Life insurance upgrade results in money saved for the city
At last week's meeting the mayor appointed new Alderwoman Stacy
Bacon to chair the insurance committee and Alderman Nathan Turner
was moved from chairman to co-chairman.
Tuesday night Bacon yielded the floor to Turner regarding ongoing
insurance issues that he has been working with since before she was
Turner reported that the updates to the city police life policies
have been made according to their negotiated contract.
He added that in doing this, the insurance committee had noted
that there were two providers for life insurance for the city. They
decided to consolidate those policies, with only one provider, and
the change resulted in a savings on the premiums of approximately
$600 per year.
Workers' compensation to go up 44 percent
Turner also said that he had heard from the city's workers'
compensation provider that for the fiscal year beginning in
December, the city's premiums would again increase by 44 percent.
This increase comes as no surprise to the council, as back in
April, Fred Danner of Old National Insurance, who serves as an
insurance consultant for the city, had told the council to expect
increases in the workers' compensation comparable to what they
experienced for the 2008-09 premium year.
Turner said the committee will be seeking bids for the policy.
He added that actions taken as the result of a letter received in
April from the current provider, the Illinois Public Risk Fund, may
help in getting a lower premium from another provider, but they are
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Those calls to action included the creation of a safety committee.
The committee was established in July and consists of four people,
one each from police, fire and streets, and one person representing
the combined offices of City Hall.
Another call to action was that the city would create an accident
review committee. That committee was also established in July and
consists of each city department's head, plus the mayor.
In addition to these two actions, the letter had recommended that
the city do a safety audit. To date that has not been done, but
Turner said that he has spoken with a qualified individual who is
willing to perform the service to the city free of charge, so that
audit will be forthcoming.
Distribution of $31,000 CD raises questions
Alderman Buzz Busby questioned a credit that was showing up in
the amount of approximately $11,000 in the mayor's capital expense
Anderson asked if that credit might be the result of distributing
the proceeds of the recently claimed CD in the amount of $31,000.
Denise Martinek, city clerk, said that she would look into it,
but that she thought that was correct. It was questioned as to why
it went into the mayor's line item, and Martinek said that Les
Plotner, city treasurer, had given her office the breakout on where
the funds should go.
Busby said that they couldn't just put the money wherever they
wanted to; there had to be a supplemental appropriation ordinance
passed so that the money could be used.
After some discussion, the council realized that the money in the
mayor's line item should perhaps have been put in the city clerk's
line for additional expenses incurred in consultation and updating
of the city software by WTI, and that an amendment to appropriations
This is necessary because the clerk's office has used its entire
appropriation amount, and the city can not legally exceed that
amount without doing an amendment ordinance.
Busby warns department heads to watch that overtime
Busby said he wanted to remind all department heads to keep an
eye on their overtime. To date no one is over appropriations, but an
appropriation is merely a wish list, and they need to be looking at
their budgeted figures, as that is the money that is actually
Turner: What's the negative in going out for bid?
Busby said that the wastewater treatment plant needs to purchase
a new truck crane and that they would like to purchase the crane
from Drake and Scruggs out of Springfield without going out for bid.
Busby said that the firm has installed all the other special
equipment on that truck and they would like to just stay with them.
The truck crane purchase is for the crane only, and it will be
installed on a truck the treatment plant already owns.
Next, he told the council that the Palmer Street lift station was
in need of a new bar screen.
He said that Bob Tackett, the wastewater treatment manager, would
like for the city to approve purchasing the bar screen from E & I
Corp. out of Columbus, Ohio, again without going out for bid.
Busby said that this company is the one that made the original
bar screen and will be able to provide a replacement that is exactly
the right size, so there will be no need for additional work to be
done at the lift station.
Turner asked if E & I was the only company that could do this, or
if there others out there who could provide the same thing.
Tackett said that there were others, and that he had contacted
one that said they would have to do a custom build, and it would
cost about twice the amount that E & I will charge.
Turner then asked, if that was the case, what would be the
negative of going out for bid? He expressed that approving purchases
without going through the bid process is something he's really not
Alderman David Armbrust expressed that there was always the
possibility that the city would get a lower bid and then have things
come up that add to the end cost. "Sometimes it's a lot easier to
just go with what you've got," he said.
In the end, the council agreed, and the motion will be made
Monday night to proceed with the purchases without seeking bids.
EPA visit goes well; monitoring equipment needs to be purchased
Tackett said that the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency
paid a visit to the wastewater treatment plant, and that things went
He said that the combined sewer overflow monitoring was the
lengthiest discussion that he had with the EPA.
Tackett said that the city will be receiving a letter in the near
future to go forward with the monitoring.
It is mandated by the EPA that after rain events the city do six
samples to test the combined sewer overflow. Tackett said the
samples are tested for a variety of things, including pH and waste
Samples will be taken in three locations: the Union lift station,
beside the treatment plant where water releases into the river, and
downstream from the plant where some of the other storm pipes
release into the river.
This year's budget included $150,000 for the purchase of the
necessary equipment to do the monitoring.
Tackett said that he wanted to give the council a heads up that
the letter would be coming, and they would have just so many days to
do the required testing.
[By NILA SMITH]