Friday, November 09, 2012
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Council votes to sell surplus real estate; a new agreement for city engineer; Conzo offers year-end financial report

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[November 09, 2012]  Monday evening, aldermen for the city of Lincoln had their first voting session for November. There were seven members present, with Melody Anderson, Buzz Busby and Tom O'Donohue being absent for the evening.

The evening opened with approximately a dozen members of Boy Scout Troop 102 leading the council in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag. The troop was paying a visit to the city council as one of the requirements for their communications badges.

City agrees to sell property

By unanimous vote the council passed a resolution for the sale of surplus real estate.

The city will be listing for sale the two lots at 324 and 328 Eighth St. This is the location of the old Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital parking lot that was given to the city when the hospital took residency at their new location, just off Lincoln Parkway.

The hospital also gave the city the lot where the old building stood, and that property has been earmarked as the location of the new APEX at City Center. The two lots on the north side of Eighth Street will be sold to assist in the financing of the APEX.

City enters into new contract with Prairie Engineers

In October, Darrin Forgy of Prairie Engineers proposed a new contract for the firm's services as city engineers. In the proposal, Prairie Engineers outlined a basic package of services to the city, and a proposal to charge separate fees for special services, such as engineering and design for larger projects.

Forgy explained that by designing the contract in such a manner, the city could save money on fees that are normally paid out of the general operating account, and could charge the special project fees to the fund that is paying for the project.

He cited as an example, if a major project was being done that would be paid for by the motor fuel tax fund, then the engineering and design fees could also be paid from that fund.

The motion to change the contract was added to the agenda in October but was tabled when the time came to vote on it.

Monday night Alderwoman Marty Neitzel said she was ready to take the item off the table and conduct the vote.

When the official motion was made, she said she felt that Forgy had done a good job of presenting information to the council on this subject, but she wanted to open the floor if anyone had any questions or comments. No one spoke up, so the item went to a vote and was passed unanimously.

Another motion regarding paying Prairie Engineers $10,980 for the design and engineering work for the Oglesby Street bridge project remained on the table to be voted on at a later date.

Conzo offers year-end comparisons

The city closed its fiscal year on April 30, 2012. By law, the city treasurer is required to publish a report of the year-end figures as well as file it with the state of Illinois.

Treasurer Chuck Conzo told the council Monday evening that he had fulfilled that requirement. He also offered them a report that compared fiscal 2011-12 with fiscal 2010-11.

He began by pointing out that in the last year, total revenues were down. He said part of the reason for the reduction was that the city received its new bond issue in fiscal 2010. Even though the money has not been spent in its entirety, because the city financial records are kept on what is known as a "cash basis," the money is counted in the year it is received.

In addition, in the 2010 year, the city had a grant in the amount of $290,000 that was to be used for sewer projects.

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Conzo also pointed out that actual revenues from the motor fuel tax were down, as were revenues from the personal property replacement tax. Neither of these reductions in revenue came as a surprise.

Conzo has long been telling the council to expect to see continual drops in the motor fuel tax as long as gas prices are on the rise. He has pointed out that when consumers are faced with higher gas prices, they take measures to drive less and use less. Because the tax is assessed on a per gallon basis instead of a per dollar basis, when consumers cut back, the tax revenue falls.

The personal property replacement tax is a state-assessed tax on local business properties. The state collects the tax on the property, then distributes a portion of it back to the city. This is the tax the state is now using to pay the costs related to Regional Offices of Education. In order to pay those offices, the state has reduced the amount of money reimbursed to the city.

Conzo pointed out that some of the state tax revenue figures are down, but not really. The state is continuing to fall behind in paying its obligations to municipalities. Because of this, revenue figures look worse than they actually are, because the city cannot count the money until it is received.

On a bright note, Conzo noted that the tax disbursement from the county for residential property tax was up over the 2010 figure, as was the revenue generated through building permits.

On the expenditure side of his report, Conzo said cash paid out in the 2011-12 year was down. He complimented the department heads and aldermen on being conservative in their spending.

(Click here for official report.)

Mayor appoints Ruth Sloot to Civil Service Commission

Mayor Keith Snyder asked the council to consent to his appointment of Ruth Sloot to the Civil Service Commission. He said Sloot would be replacing David Huffman, who has resigned from the commission. The council consented, and Sloot will fill that position, effective immediately.


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