Wednesday, June 15, 2011
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City redistricting would cut aldermen to 8

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[June 15, 2011]  Tuesday evening eight aldermen were in attendance at the committee-of-the-whole workshop for the city of Lincoln. Melody Anderson and Tom O'Donohue were absent for the evening.

Returning to the chamber were Buzz Busby and David Wilmert. Busby is recovering from pneumonia and reported that he was doing well. Wilmert was absent last week due to the birth of his son, Cameron Tiberius Wilmert.

At the beginning of the evening, Wilmert was congratulated on the new arrival.

Alderwoman Joni Tibbs passed out homemade candy pacifiers to everyone in the room. She joked with Wilmert, saying, "This is to help pacify us all that we now have another Wilmert in the city of Lincoln."

Wilmert reported that mother and son are now doing well, but wife Cari encountered some serious complications after delivery. He offered thanks and praise to Dr. Sielaff and the staff of Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital for quickly getting her into surgery and successfully solving the problem.

City faces probable redistricting

Tuesday evening Mayor Keith Snyder handed out copies of the Illinois state codes regarding wards and aldermen designations within a municipality.

According to state laws, the number of wards in a city and the corresponding number of alderman is to be based upon the total population within the city. The population number is determined according to national census results.

In the 2010 census, the results came in that Lincoln's population has dropped to just below 15,000. Because of this the city is required to remap its districts.

With the change in population, the city is now allowed only four wards and eight aldermen.

According to the law, the city redistricting must be completed 30 days prior to the filing date for the next city election of officers.

Snyder said with the next seating election being in 2013, the filing date would be early in that calendar year. He then backed out the timeline and said the city would have to have all this work done by early November 2012.

State law requires that when doing the redistricting, each ward in the city shall be as close to the same in population as is possible.

Snyder said the city went through a similar situation in the 1980s. At that time the redistricting dropped the number of city aldermen from 14 down to the 10 of today.

Busby shared that when this was last done, the University of Illinois had provided assistance, with some of their students doing a lot of the work.

Snyder and city attorney Bill Bates also discussed how the number of aldermen would be changed from 10 to eight, and at the moment there needs to be more research done in that area.


Bates said one of the most important factors may be where sitting aldermen live inside the districts once they are redrawn. Snyder also mentioned that there might have to be new elections of all eight aldermen.

Wilmert also noted that in the last census, the city fell below the 15,000 mark by only 500. He wondered how accurate that census actually was, saying the difference is within the margin of error on the census.

Wilmert asked if the city should ask for some type of recount.

Bates said he thought that was an excellent idea, but he had no idea how to go about it. He noted that the recount would have to come from the Census Bureau, and he wondered how likely it would be that the agency would go along with doing anything.

Miller working on fines and fees for fire department

Fire Chief Mark Miller shared that he has been working with attorney Blinn Bates of Woods & Bates on drafting some ordinances with fees and fines attached that would help the fire department recoup some of its costs on certain calls.

One area of concern is false calls that are initiated due to poor maintenance of alarm systems or lack of notification when systems are being serviced.

Miller qualified that fees would not be applied in cases when smoke alarms go off due to smoke but result in there being no fire. He noted that alarms will sometimes go off in cooking situations, and these are not the types of calls that would be subject to fines.

What Miller wants to do is establish a three-strike rule for alarm systems that are malfunctioning and not being repaired. The city would allow for the first three, and then if the alarms are still not working properly, would start charging fines for the call-outs, with those fines getting progressively larger for each additional time the department has to go out.

Another area where fines could be applied is in specialized rescues.

Bates wondered about how this ordinance was being written, saying it stipulated that fees could be collected when and if it was determined by OSHA or the Department of Labor that the accident could have been avoided with proper safety and maintenance. He wondered when that would ever happen.

Miller noted an incident in the past when there had been an explosion in some underground tanks, and the Department of Labor determined that the explosion could have been avoided through proper maintenance and practices.

Again, there would be many types of accidents this fee and fine policy would not apply to.

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And finally, there was discussion regarding attaching fees to fireworks permits. Miller said that when fireworks displays are planned in the city, the fire department does a pre-show inspection, has apparatus on standby for accidents and then does a post-show inspection to be certain the area is free of hazards.

He said with an hourlong show and two inspections, the cost to the department is approximately $190. He would want the fee structure to cover that cost.

Bates said that before his firm continued working on these ordinances, he wanted to be assured this was something aldermen were interested in pursuing.

Snyder asked if anyone had an objection to charging these types of fees and fines, and no one spoke up, so Bates and Miller will continue working on the ordinance.

It was also noted that there is not much of a chance anything will be ready to vote on before this year's fireworks display on the Fourth of July.

City will ask for reimbursement from the fair

Along this same line, the Logan County Fair board has asked that the city provide fire trucks and firefighters for its motorized events this year, including the tractor pulls and demolition derby.

Miller wondered if there was a way the city could ask for reimbursement for those services. He noted that most of the man-hours spent at the fair would be spent in overtime, plus there is the cost of having a unit on the scene.


Police Chief Ken Greenslate said the fair does pay for officers on duty, but the money goes directly to the officers. He explained that the officers who are at the fair are off the clock and are paid directly by the fair association, saving the police department from paying the overtime hours.

Snyder asked Miller to figure out what the actual cost might be for covering these events.

The costs will be stipulated in a motion at next week's voting session.

Busby will bring up Illinois American contract again in two months

Busby turned the floor over to Chuck Conzo, city treasurer, to discuss a copy of a contract Conzo has received from the city of Belleville.

The contact is with Illinois American Water for shutoffs in Belleville. Conzo said the contract is pretty much the same as the company offered the city of Lincoln. Belleville has used water shutoffs as a means to collect delinquent sewer accounts for the past five years with a great deal of success.

Conzo also noted that Belleville has had no liability issues as a result of these practices. The Illinois American contract presented to the city holds the water company blameless in the case of liability lawsuits. Bates has told the Lincoln council he cannot recommend such a contract.

Busby said he was going to hold on to the Illinois American contract and bring it up again in about two months. He qualified this, saying that using a collection agency is not going to work, and the city will eventually need to do something else.

Demolition has begun on ALMH

A company out of Chicago has been contracted to demolish the old Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital, and work is under way.

John Lebegue, building and safety officer, told the council that he has been in contact with the firm and is quite pleased with the choice ALMH made in hiring them. He noted that the firm is well-known and respected in the Chicago area, and he is confident the demolition will be done in a proper fashion.

The firm started work inside the building and is expected to start working on the exterior of the structure next week.

Wilmert wondered about the lighting in the area right now. He said since being a new father who is up at all hours of the night, he has noted the street he lives on next to the hospital is quite dark now because the hospital parking lot lights are no longer on. He wondered if the city should check into the number of streetlights in that area and see if more needed to be added.


Snyder says "it's time"

Mayor Snyder told the council it is time to start working on job descriptions and job searching for the new city administrator to be hired by November. He said he plans to choose a couple of aldermen to assist him in the search and wants to get started as soon as possible.

Executive session

At the end of the evening the alderman went into executive session to discuss collective bargaining.


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