Friday, January 22, 2010
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City briefs: development partnership's annual report, some good news from city treasurer, appropriations and more

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[January 22, 2010]  This week's voting session of the Lincoln City Council was held on Tuesday night due to the Martin Luther King holiday on Monday.

At the beginning of the meeting, Mayor Keith Snyder asked for a moment of silence in remembrance of all those Lincoln residents who have been lost since the last meeting. He noted in particular the loss of Helen Newman, Mark Graff, Ron Hardy and Tom Culnan.

Mrs. Newman was the mother of Alderwoman Marty Neitzel. Snyder also noted that she was Logan County Republican chairwoman for 30 years. (Obituary)

Mark Graff was the owner of Kleen Sweep Janitorial and provided services to City Hall. Mr. Graff lost his life in a house fire on Jan. 18. (Obituary)

Tom Culnan was recognized in 2009 for his continued service of 24-plus years to the city of Lincoln's zoning appeals board. (Obituary)


Ron Hardy was recognized as a retired officer from the Lincoln City Police Department, not only by the mayor but also in a letter from Chief Stuart Erlenbush, which was read aloud by Paul Adams, city police detective, in Erlenbush's absence. (Obituary)

Smiley delivers 2009 annual report

Joel Smiley, executive director of the Lincoln & Logan County Development Partnership, delivered copies of his 2009 annual report to the council and then offered an update on current activities in the partnership.

This year, the partnership will go through an audit. Smiley said that this was the first audit they have had to do, and they are currently seeking bids for an auditor.

The Peoria Regional Economic Development Council has sent all their information to the Economic Development Administration. All the counties in the Peoria EDC had to have special resolutions passed, which took about two months. Smiley said that the EDA had not originally asked for those resolutions, so the regional council had to go back and do this after everything else was finished.

Smiley reminded everyone that the regional group is nearing completion of a nearly three-year undertaking. "So we're really close to getting this thing wrapped up," he said.


The partnership has done approximately 30 site visits to area business and industry. He said that he has also included in this the Lincoln Correctional and Logan Correctional facilities. Smiley said that it was important to touch base with the leadership there for any ideas or concerns that they might have.

Smiley said that one thing that has come out of the site visits is the suggestion of forming a manufacturers council. Smiley said that the topic came from area manufacturers who have expressed an interest in having such a council. He also noted that these councils are starting up all over the country and are proving to be productive.

Smiley advised the council that the partnership is working on hiring a consultant for the Economic Master Plan. The board is doing a "Request for Proposal" to a select eight qualified firms. Smiley said that the proposals are due back at the end of this week. He noted that two of those firms, he has been told, have decided to work together on one proposal. Smiley said that these firms were also two that he had selected to invite.

The timeline Smiley is working toward is to have the consultant(s) hired by the end of February, a rough draft by September or October, and by the end of October have a formal plan to share with the city.

The Rail Splitter Wind Farm, Smiley said, has put Logan County "on the map." It is listed as one of the largest wind projects of 2009.

The result is that three developers are currently looking at Logan County. Two of those developers have already erected meteorological towers in areas of interest. These towers are used to measure wind velocities and establish data to support the area's ability to generate power. Smiley noted that these two companies are also talking to landowners.

In addition, he has heard that the third company will soon be following suit. Therefore, he estimated that by 2012 the county could see between one and three new wind farms come into the area.

Smiley said that as he is talking to wind developers, he is inquiring about manufacturers and suppliers related to wind energy. "As these developers come in, we're asking them: ‘Who are your suppliers? Can we contact them and see if they are interested in setting up assembly facilities? Are they interested in setting up part distribution centers?' We want to go after all these companies," he said.

In closing he said that several of his board members will be attending the second part of the mayor's Economic Development Summit on Saturday. Smiley said that the summit is a very exciting initiative that the mayor has taken and that it is important to economic development that folks get out and talk about the issues.

City treasurer delivers a little good news

Les Plotner, city treasurer, began his monthly financial report by saying that last month Snyder had asked him to try to deliver a little good news at the next monthly report.

Plotner said that perhaps the mayor should say that every month because he was happy to deliver "a little good news."

Sale tax revenues that were received this month are for taxes generated in October of 2009. Plotner said that those revenues actually exceeded what had been generated in October of 2008.

Plotner said that he didn't really know why they had jumped up, and Alderman Buzz Busby spoke up, saying that it might have been the Clunker rebate program initiated through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Plotner also said he was happy to report that revenues this month from the non-home rule tax also exceeded what was brought in one year ago.

For this month's report, Plotner spoke very little about expenditures and budget, saying only that he had provided the council with graphs of the expenditure figures and that they should look at those carefully.

Finance committee reviews 2009-10 appropriations

Prior to the voting session, the finance committee met to review the appropriations for the 2009-10 fiscal year.

Finance chair Melody Anderson passed out a summary spreadsheet showing where there may be some need for adjustment to appropriations.

One of the most alarming figures on the spreadsheet came in the line of the motor fuel tax expenditures. In the line of supplies and materials, the budgeted amount for the year is $150,000 and the appropriations amount is $165,000. Currently the total amount expended in the line is $175,635. Anderson said that this is the line item that covers items such as salt for winter.

Anderson said that for the appropriations, this figure needs to be pumped up to $250,000.

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She added that the best part of this is that these funds do not come out of the general fund. The expenditures under the motor fuel tax line are covered by a separate pool of money, revenues from the tax itself, and in that pool there is enough money to cover these expenditures.

Anderson explained that the appropriations would have to be changed, and then there will be a separate resolution to amend the motor fuel tax expenditures.

In the motor fuel tax budget there are also expenditures for traffic light repair and the Fifth Street Road project that are due to be reimbursed by the state. Currently the expenditures are exceeding the budget and the appropriations.

Anderson asked if the figures should be amended, just in case the state doesn't get the reimbursement to the city. Council members Marty Neitzel, Kathy Horn and Busby all said that they thought it would be better to be safe, so go ahead and raise the appropriations figure.

Another area of concern was in the city fire department's repair and equipment line. Currently the budget is for $17,000, the appropriation is $25,000, and the actual expenditures total $17,584 for the year to date.


Anderson said that she had talked to all the department heads, and even though there were lines where they were over budget, in most cases there were also lines where they were under budget. She said that amounts could be moved among the lines on the budget without having to amend the appropriations bill.

However, she had also spoken to fire Chief Kent Hulett, and during the meeting he reiterated himself that it would be a good idea to raise the appropriations amount from $25,000 to $30,000 for repairs expenditures.

Hulett noted that it is his goal to keep vehicles in the best possible condition rather than spending money on replacing them.

The miscellaneous fund capital expense equipment is well over budget, but it is under appropriations. Anderson said that the CD that was discovered to be city property last July is being distributed in a few different areas, including this line, and will bring that amount down to what it should be.

The group also discussed the merit commission, what their role was and whom they answered to in city government; how safety complex maintenance was billed; and also how the city street lights were billed. Anderson will continue to work on the appropriations and plans to have an amended bill ready to pass at the Feb. 2 voting session.

It should be noted that the city budget is based on reasonable expectations of revenues and expenditures in a 12-month period, while appropriations are designed basically for best-case scenarios.

For example the appropriations bill contains $7,600,000 for capital expense--road rehab, while the budget holds only $1,693,000.

The difference in the two figures takes into consideration the work that the city hopes to do on Fifth Street Road west of Lincoln Parkway. Should the city win a grant for the project and not have it listed in appropriations, they would not be able to move forward.

Illico highway agreement taken off the agenda

On Jan. 28, 2009, Craig Gocker of Environmental Management Technologies, Bloomington, spoke to the council regarding a highway authority agreement that was being requested by Illico. The agreement pertained to the property that is now known as the Apollo Mart on Broadway, across the street from the fire station.

On Feb. 2, 2009, when the item was placed on the agenda for voting, it was tabled, and it has remained on the table since then.

Tuesday night Alderman Nathan Turner asked that it be removed from the table. Once that motion passed, Turner said, "I want to remove this from the agenda. It is out of our hands and in the property owner's hands, waiting for a response."

The motion passed unanimously. For it to come back to the table, the owners or interested parties will have to return to the council with a new request.

Taking bids approved

By unanimous vote, the city will go out for bid for a second police cruiser, plus they will take bids for work to be done at the Kmart/Zion and Singleton lift stations.


Mayor encourages everyone to attend Economic Development Summit, part two

Snyder said that the second part of the mayor's Economic Development Summit is coming up this Saturday. All aldermen as well as the general public are invited to attend the half-day session that begins at 8:30 a.m.

Lincoln Christian University President Keith Ray will guide a discussion on the book "Caught in the Middle: America's Heartland in the Age of Globalism," by Richard C. Longworth.

At the first summit, in September of 2009, Ray had said that the book offers great insight into the mindset of the Midwest. He suggested that everyone read it.

Before that session was over, Ray had volunteered to provide a copy of the book to each person present and to guide the group through the book in an open discussion.


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