Wednesday, March 24, 2010
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City briefs: Good news from IDOT, bad news on sewer upgrades

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[March 24, 2010]  At the Tuesday night committee-of-the-whole meeting of the Lincoln City Council, Mayor Keith Snyder was absent for the evening, and Alderman Buzz Busby took the front table as the mayor pro tem. With all other council members present, Busby called the meeting to order and said that he was going to take things out of their normal order because city engineer Mark Mathon needed to speak on a few topics, then leave the meeting early.

InsuranceIDOT picks up the tab

Mathon began the evening by telling everyone he had received some good news from the engineers at the Illinois Department of Transportation.

IDOT is going to pick up the tab for all the work they plan to do inside the city of Lincoln this year.

This will include the overlay on Fifth Street, the parking lanes along that route, installation of the traffic signal at Fifth and College, plus the sidewalk work that was recently added to that project.

In addition they will cover the full costs of the upgrades to the traffic light at Woodlawn and College, as well as the overlay project for Route 10 through town from Kickapoo to Pulaski.

Mathon said he has asked for written confirmation of the discussion he had with IDOT, and that will be coming to the city soon.


Bids for Singleton shock council members

In the early part of 2009, David Kitzmiller, then the manager for the city's sewage treatment facility, told the council that the Singleton lift station was in need of replacement.

He and Mathon had done a rough draft of a plan that would ultimately save the city money but would involve merging the Kmart and Zion stations, doing a new construction at Malerich Drive, and taking the equipment from Kmart to Singleton.

He estimated then that the project would cost approximately $360,000.

For the 2009-10 budget year, the council approved $350,000 for the project, plus $50,000 for the engineering work that would be done by Donohue & Associates.

Tuesday night, bids were opened for the project, and the dollar figures were far from what had been originally budgeted.

Davis-Houk of Urbana bid $560,000, G.A. Rich and Sons of Deer Creek bid $751,280, and Hoerr of Peoria bid $775,250.

Busby asked that Joe Pisula of Donohue & Associates take the podium to discuss the bids and field questions from the council.

Busby asked if Pisula was familiar with the low-bid firm. Pisula said that the firm has done several large projects, including work for the University of Illinois. He said he was confident the firm was capable of doing the work well.

He also said he was disappointed in the bids, but that he had seen the writing on the wall in the last few weeks.

He explained that a portion of the problem was that the original design called for the sewer lines to be placed in a ditch near the Dollar Tree store. However, IDOT wasn't willing to approve that plan. Redesigning this one piece of the plan added significant footage to the construction plan, which obviously added to the cost.


In addition, Pisula said that the price of PVC pipe has escalated and is changing daily as petroleum prices fluctuate.

Also, a big chunk of the money is going to go toward the installation of permanent generators at the stations.

Pisula said that the generators could be removed from the plan, but they were really a pretty important part of it.

He explained that if the city would see a power failure over a prolonged period of time, they do not have enough portable generators to run every lift station. With no power, city residents would be at risk for sewage issues that could affect their health and well-being.

He cited cities in other areas that had been saved a lot of headaches during recovery from tornadoes because they had those generators that kept sewage flowing while they dealt with other issues.

Alderwoman Joni Tibbs spoke up, saying that she wasn't sure it would be a good idea to take something away that was that important.

Alderwoman Melody Anderson asked if the generators could be added at a later date, and Pisula said that yes, they could, but the cost would be huge.

Alderwoman Marty Neitzel asked about Petersburg Plumbing, which has in the past done a great deal of work for the city. Pisula said that the Petersburg firm has taken on some really big projects in the Springfield and Chatham area and had advised him that they were not going to have the time or manpower for this project; thus, they did not bid.

Pisula also said he would like to go to the two high bidders and ask them specifically, "Where are the big bucks?" in the project.

Anderson asked about what was in this year's budget, and waste treatment manager Bob Tackett reminded everyone that there was $400,000 budgeted, $50,000 of which went to Donohue.

The council discussed whether or not they could make a decision and get at least one check cut to the winning bidder before the end of April. Anderson said that if they paid the $350,000 out of this year's budget, then they could build the remaining balance into the next budget year.

In the end Busby said that he wanted to have a separate meeting where he, Neitzel, Tackett and Mathon would decide on a recommendation they will bring back to the council.

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Enterprise zone on the April 5 agenda

Acting as the city's interim attorney, Phil Montalvo said that he has had his questions regarding the amendment to the enterprise zone answered, and he believes it is ready for the council to approve.

He said he had originally questioned the language of the intergovernmental agreement but was now satisfied that all was well.

This amendment to the enterprise zone is being done to include several locations in the county where grain elevators exist that wish to take advantage of the tax breaks they can get for new construction.

Currently the plan has been approved by Logan County, Sangamon County and the town of Atlanta.

Montalvo reminded the council that Lincoln and Logan County are the ones that control the enterprise zone, and all the others have to follow their lead. However, if those that have not voted yet should oppose the plan in any way, it will have to be completely done over; it cannot be amended once approved by Logan and Lincoln.

Currently the other areas that haven't voted are Hartsburg, which will vote on March 29; Elkhart will vote on April 5; New Holland will vote April 14; and DeWitt County will vote on April 22.

Busby brought up a topic that has been on the floor in the past: "What's in it for us?"


Andy Hamilton of Opportunity Alliance said that basically it was a matter of helping a neighbor.

Busby replied, "That's not much, it's not like a wind farm. And we're giving part of the enterprise zone away."

The first grain elevator to benefit from the enterprise zone was Elkhart Grain in Elkhart. When that addition was made, the council then voiced a concern that the zone was not being used to do what it was originally intended to do: add jobs.

The matter will come up for a vote at the April 5 voting session of the council.

There will be no meeting next week, as that is a fifth Monday and by ordinance the council does not meet in the fifth week of the month.

Grant may be awarded for firehouse improvements

Fire Chief Kent Hulett said that he has gotten word on a grant he applied for that may be awarded.

The grant application has passed the peer review.

The city has to now answer three questions from the federal government: Will you accept the grant; will you pay your cost share; and finally, how will you pay your share?

Hulett said that the grant is for $41,585, and the city would have to provide $2,079.

The grant would cover the cost of an air filtration system for the existing fire station. Hulett said the station currently does not meet OSHA and National Fire Protection Association standards for proper ventilation of exhaust from the fire trucks.

Hulett said that if the city accepts the award, they have one year to spend the money. His recommendation would be to take the grant and build the city's share into the 2010-11 budget.

Other news

The farm lease between the city and Kent Cross for the 40 acres near Lincoln Lakes has been signed by both parties and is now in full force.

Tracy Jackson, city street and alley superintendent, said there is a problem at the landfill with people driving into areas where burning is going on. He has established a red flag system to warn motorists to stay away when burning is going on, and he will issue press releases to that effect in the near future.


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