All 10 members of the council were present for the evening.
City and county to work together in considering electric aggregation
Just a few weeks ago the Logan County Board and Lincoln aldermen
believed they had successfully completed the first steps to offering
alternative electric providers to the city and county, when both
independently chose to hire BlueStar Energy as their consultant for
However in an abrupt turn of events, the city and county learned
that BlueStar had been sold to one of the largest providers of
electricity in the nation, American Electric Power, a company based
out of Columbus, Ohio.
In their contracts with the two governing bodies, BlueStar had
agreed that even though they, too, were providers of electricity,
they would not bid on the local services if hired as consultants.
Now that BlueStar is owned by American Electric Power, the terms
and conditions of the BlueStar contract apply to AEP as well,
something that city officials feel might prevent them from getting
the best possible price for local residents.
Last week Mayor Keith Snyder said BlueStar had agreed to void the
contracts if the city was interested in getting bids from AEP. BlueStar
made the same offer to the county, and both have agreed this is what
they want to do. Therefore, both the city and county will once again
be looking for a new consultant.
Tuesday night, Snyder said he had met earlier in the evening with
Mike Maniscalco of the Lincoln & Logan County Development
Partnership, Aldermen Tom O'Donohue and David Wilmert, and three
members of the Logan County Board, with the goal of exploring ways
the county and city could work together on these issues.
Snyder said it was agreed that next week two prospective
consultants, Good Energy and Illinois Community Choice Aggregation
Network, will be invited to attend the Tuesday night meeting of the
city council to present their proposals.
In addition to the regular aldermen, the meeting will also
include county board members who sit on the county's insurance and
Snyder said he wanted to do a few things differently. First, he
would like to start the meeting at 6 p.m. instead of 7. Next, he
would like to move the location of the meeting. He said he
didn't want the county board members sitting in chairs along the
wall, and he wanted a location where they could be as a group.
Finally, he wants each of the two companies to present their pitches
outside the presence of the other. He said he wanted to keep the
company representatives in separate spaces from the meeting so there
would be no unfair advantage in one getting to listen while the
other went first.
Snyder said that after next week's meeting, the group who met
earlier -- Maniscalco, O'Donohue, Wilmert, himself and the county
board members -- will meet again to discuss their impressions.
Snyder commented on this unprecedented event, saying: "The
meeting this evening was requested by the members of the county
board. I think it was a good meeting, and hopefully it is a start of
continued efforts to try to work together on matters of mutual
Main Street introduces this year's board president
Wanda Lee Rohlfs, the executive director of Main Street Lincoln,
was on hand Tuesday night along with local businessman Seth Goodman,
who will serve as the president of the Main Street board for the
Rohlfs began by talking briefly about the plans for the
organization for this year. On a state level, all Main Street
organizations were folded into the economic development component of
the state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. As such,
Rohlfs said the programs offered by Main Street Lincoln now have to
fall into one of four categories: organization, promotion, design
and economic restructuring.
Coupled with the DCEO activities and requirements, Main Street
Lincoln is also part of the Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition.
The Main Street goal there is to preserve and promote the city and
county's Abraham Lincoln heritage.
Rohlfs went through a handout of several pages, outlining what
the activities of the Main Street organization will be this year and
under what category they fall.
Rohlfs then introduced Seth Goodman as this year's president of
the board of Main Street Lincoln. Goodman is, at the age of 24, the
youngest board president the organization has ever had. Rohlfs said
she has known Goodman for quite some time, as she was his counselor
in high school and knew even then that he would be an asset to
Goodman is a real estate agent with ME Realty in Lincoln. He is a
Lincoln native who has been on the Main Street board for
approximately three years and served as the treasurer one year. He
is also one of the local balloonists who participate at the annual
Lincoln Art & Balloon Festival.
This year there are seven new members on the Main Street board
and seven returning members, for a total of 14. Rohlfs commented on
the turnover on the board, saying the new blood coming into the
organization is going to be an asset to the group. She noted it is
always good to have a diverse mix in the group, and with the ones
coming on, she sees younger people who will add their own
perspective to the organization.
She also talked about looking at a board representing businesses
that are a mix of retail and professional. She noted that many
times, when Main Street Lincoln is working to promote the downtown,
the board members who are retail business owners are not able to
participate. With a diversity of business professionals on the
board, she's hoping for greater visibility in the community.
City wins DCEO grant
In April of 2010, the city and Main Street Lincoln hosted a
public meeting to introduce a streetscape plan for the downtown
area. The plan was an example of what could be done in the downtown
area to make the heart of the city more attractive to visitors and
In that meeting, Lisa Kramer of Prairie Engineers was on hand to
talk about the plan and a grant application that could be made to
DCEO to fund further plan development. .
(Read a report on that meeting here:
Tuesday evening, Snyder announced the city has won the grant they
applied for and will have $675,000 to use over the next three years
for downtown revitalization.
(See news release in today's Top Stories:
City of Lincoln receives $675,000 DCEO
grant for downtown revitalization)
[to top of second column]
The grant funding will be used for three purposes: to develop an
overall downtown revitalization program, to fund building demolition
and code compliance within the downtown area, and to fund facade
improvements that are historically accurate.
Snyder said much of the money will be spent on developing plans,
and money for the actual work will have to come from other sources.
He noted the city had applied for and been denied an Illinois
Transportation Enhancement Program grant. He said one of the things
that cost the city points on their application was that they had no
plan. He noted that with a plan in place, the city will be in a
better position the next time the grant is available.
Positive moves on city development
John Lebegue, building and safety officer, delivered his
quarterly report to the council on the activities of his office. He
said building activity in the last three months had been slow, but
development-related activities were definitely picking up.
In his written report Lebegue noted the following;
Aldi will begin
building their new retail store at 2500 Woodlawn Road later this
summer or early fall.
Dollar General is
planning construction of a new store at 708 Woodlawn, next door
to Daphne's Restaurant.
With the merger of
Hundman Lumber and Alexander Lumber, Alexander will be moving to
the Hundman building at 910 Woodlawn. The lumber company plans
to demolish one old structure and replace it with a new
build. They also plan to add on to another building. In
addition, they plan to make improvements to the interior of the
retail store and will offer a wider variety of products for
Subway will open a
new restaurant at the former Quiznos at 3097 Woodlawn Road.
Lebegue said he thought Subway would be able to open fairly
quickly, as the store was already set up for a sub shop, with
very little to do to make it operable again.
D & D Sewer has
purchased the former gas station at 620 Keokuk, on the east side
of the railroad tracks, and will move their business into the
building. Lebegue said the new owners are planning some exterior
improvements and new construction that will improve the
appearance of the property.
Two dilapidated homes at 703 and 711 N.
Kickapoo have been demolished. The area, which is already zoned
commercial, will make a great location for any new business that
might be interested in the future.
Conzo delivers treasurer's report for December
Chuck Conzo, city treasurer, delivered his report on city
finances for the month of December, saying the general fund balance
is in good condition compared with years past. On the last day of
December, the general fund balance was $362,301.10, compared with
$193,453.10 at the same time the previous year.
In December the city received $444,066.18 from the state of
Illinois from various sources. Money received is still running
behind and will probably continue to do so. In December the city
received state payments for non-home-rule sales tax, municipal sales
tax and telecommunications tax that were obligations from
September. The state payment for replacement tax was the December
obligation, and the local share of income tax was the state's
payment for July.
Conzo pointed out the steady decline in revenues from the motor
fuel tax. As gas prices rise, consumers cut back on buying and less
tax is collected. In 2006 the amount collected from this tax totaled
$442,386.37; in 2011 the total dropped to $374,108.23.
Conzo also expressed concern over the replacement tax. The figure
is dropping, not only due to the economy, but also because this is
the funding source that now provides payments for the regional
school superintendents. Last year, regional superintendents worked
several months without pay when their funding was stripped from the
education budget on a state level. When their pay was restored, the
money was taken out of the replacement tax, which in turn caused a
decrease for municipalities statewide.
In spite of these setbacks, Conzo said it has been a pretty good
year for the budget. He expressed appreciation to all the city
department heads who have managed their money very well this
year. He said he realized that for most of them it meant doing
without some things and getting by with what they had, but it had
made a great deal of difference for the city.
The council approved the consent agenda by unanimous vote. This
included resolutions for National Catholic Schools Week, Jan.
29-Feb. 5, and National Marriage Week, Feb. 7-14.
Also approved by unanimous vote was a request from Norm and
Yvonne Horn of Lincoln Speedway to be granted three 30-minute
extensions to be used as needed at this year's race events. The
exception is that the extensions cannot be used on nights when the
established curfew is 9 p.m.
Fire Chief Mark Miller received approval, again by unanimous
vote, to hire one new firefighter to replace Beau Friday, who has
resigned to take a position with the Springfield department.
Next week's committee of the whole meeting will begin at 6 p.m.
The location for the meeting is not yet known but will be announced
as soon as arrangements have been made. Snyder said he hopes to be
able to use space either at the Lincoln Park District or Abraham
Lincoln Memorial Hospital.
[By NILA SMITH]