AFSCME seeks city support
Black spoke about the concerns
facing Logan Correctional Center employees if the threats from Gov.
Pat Quinn to close the prison become reality.
Currently there are 357 employees at the Logan facility, all in
danger of losing their jobs. Black said it has been stated that
there will be openings available at other locations, but that will
mean relocation. He noted that in many cases, these are going to be
people with families and working spouses who will also be leaving
the area, perhaps to never return.
Black said that before the prison is closed, there must be a
public hearing on the subject, and by law the hearing must be
conducted within a 25-mile radius of the prison.
AFSCME is planning on raising public awareness of the situation
through yard signs and other campaigns. In addition, Black said that
when the hearing date is set, he wants to organize a community
get-together to rally support for the prison.
He asked that the city also offer its support by speaking up in
opposition to the prison closure.
Mayor Keith Snyder told Black that, speaking for the council, the
city does not want to lose the prison and hopes it won't happen.
He also advised the council that he has already drafted a letter
for their approval. He provided them copies of the letter and asked
that they read it and let him know of any changes or additions. Once
it is completed, the letter will be signed by all the aldermen as
well as Snyder and sent to Quinn.
Black also asked if he could return to council chambers next week
with Dale Ridgeway, the union representative for the Lincoln
Correctional facility. He said even though closing is targeted at
Logan, it will also have an effect on Lincoln. He would like an
opportunity to speak again, with Ridgeway, during the televised
session of the council.
Conzo discusses revenue shifts if prisons are annexed into the
Results from the 2010 census indicated that the population of the
city of Lincoln has dropped slightly below 15,000. Because of this,
according to state law the city is going to be required to remap the
city wards, reducing the total from five to four.
This will also mean reducing the number of aldermen who serve on
the council from 10 to eight.
Since this information came to light earlier this year, the
council has discussed the options, including doing the reduction in
wards or finding a means to increase the population.
To increase the population count, one of the best options appears
to be to annex the two correctional facilities; Logan Correctional
and Lincoln Correctional, into the city limits. By doing so, the
nearly 3,000 inmates in the two prisons could be counted in the city
In doing this, one thing the city needs to consider is the shift
in revenues as a result. Treasurer Chuck Conzo spoke about
this Tuesday night.
He outlined for the city the effect the annexation would have,
first on sewer fees. Currently the prisons are on the city
sewer system but pay an out-of-city rate for the service. This rate
is higher than an in-city rate. Conzo estimated that switching the
rates accordingly would cost the city $116,000 a year in lost sewer
On the other hand, there are tax benefits that would increase,
including state income and use taxes as well as the state motor fuel
tax. Conzo shared with the council his estimates of the increases,
which at first glance make it appear that the city would benefit a
great deal from the increased taxes.
However, Alderwoman Melody Anderson said there were pitfalls to
this, because the city's sewer department has to be
self-sufficient. Additional money coming from taxes could not be
used to supplement the sewer department.
Conzo supported that statement, saying it had been a part of his
conclusions as well, and in addition, the city needs to consider the
cost of offering other city services to the prisons.
He also noted the taxes that would increase have also been on a
steady decline over the years, and there is no indication that trend
will change, so the gains might be short-lived.
It was also mentioned that there will be a cost to the county if
this change is made, and there will be some effect on local
townships such as Broadwell to the south.
In the end, there is nothing for the council to take action on at
this time, but the information was offered as something they need to
consider as they make decisions about the future of the wards of the
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Busby approves emergency sewer work
Alderman Buzz Busby told the council that he had taken it upon
himself to approve sewer work to be done near Carroll Catholic
School by Petersburg Pluming. The cost of the work will be $12,000.
Aldermen have the authority to approve expenditures up to $10,000
without a council vote, but because this expenditure is going to be
more than that, the council will have to support his decision with a
two-thirds majority of all aldermen at next week's meeting.
Busby explained his decision came about when a sinkhole developed
near the school. He said he felt that if this were a sewer issue, it
would have an effect on the school, and he didn't want that to
David Kitzmiller, who is currently acting as the manager of the
city sewer department, said that in exploring the problem they
discovered that there was a sewer line 9 feet below the surface that
was active, plus an inactive line 15 feet below the surface. The
problem was being caused by the inactive line. As the lowest sewer
line collapsed, it was causing damage to the one above it.
The work being done involved cleaning out the lowest line, which
Kitzmiller said was found to be full of sand and gravel and unused,
filling that area back in, then moving to the more shallow area and
doing repair work there.
Ordinance pertaining to a new city administrator placed on
Snyder said the ordinance necessary to begin the search for a new
city administrator is now written and ready to be voted on next
He said the original document has been reduced to a total of
three pages, thanks to the help of Dave Anderson, a former city
administrator for Normal. Anderson belongs to a group of retired
administrators and city management professionals known as Range
Riders. The organization is part of the Illinois City/County
In addition, Snyder said Anderson has advised the search
committee -- Tom O'Donohue, David Wilmert and Snyder -- that due to
the structure of the city government, there are specific terms of
employment for the city administrator.
According to Anderson, the administrator position must run
concurrent with the mayoral position. Therefore, if an administrator
is hired at the beginning of the year 2012, his contract will be up
for renewal April 30, 2013, and each four-year increment
Forestry department to apply for grant funding
Tracy Jackson, who heads up the city's forestry department, said
he is preparing to submit a grant application for funding to plant
more trees in the city.
The grant is being funded by Spring Grove Nursery and is in the
amount of $3,000. Jackson said the terms of the grant are that
the city forestry department matches the funding dollar for dollar
and that they have all the trees planted by the end of November.
Jackson said that if the city is awarded the funds, he has money
in the forestry budget for the match.
Lincoln Community High School is preparing for their homecoming
on Sept. 30. They have asked permission for whitewashing along Wyatt
Avenue and in front of football team member homes again this
year. They are also asking for street closures during their annual
On Sept. 28, there will be a Community Night at the park in
Mayfair. The From the Ground Up group will be on hand, the Crime
Stoppers will be serving hot dogs, and the Lincoln Fire Department
will also be on hand for the evening event.
The Lincoln Park District will have a Fall Family Fun Run on Oct.
At the end of the evening, an executive session was called for
the discussion of personnel and the purchase or lease of property.
[By NILA SMITH]