Friday, February 22, 2013
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Revolving loan program, racetrack and farm lease headline voting

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[February 22, 2013]  This week the Lincoln City Council met for their voting session on Tuesday evening due to the Monday holiday. Eight aldermen were present for the meeting, with Stacy Bacon and Bruce Carmitchel being absent for the evening.

As the meeting opened, Mayor Keith Snyder asked for a moment of silence in remembrance of Tom Maurer, who died on Sunday. Maurer was a retired city police officer and former assistant chief of police. Maurer served the Lincoln Police Department from May 15, 1966, to May 31, 1995. (Obituary)

City will work with development partnership on revolving loan program

At last week's meeting Snyder told the council he has had discussions with Brian Bergen of the Lincoln & Logan County Development Partnership about the city's revolving loan program. He said that Bergen and the development partnership would like to establish a committee to oversee and administrate the loan program.

The revolving loan program is an old program that was initiated by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity several years ago. For the past several years it has been a stagnant account, with money in it going unused.

The program was designed by DCEO in order to offer businesses low-interest loans for development. The money was given to the city through a DCEO grant. The city's job was to lend it out according to certain guidelines established by DCEO. When the payments came back to the city, the money loaned went back to the program, and interest earned could be reinvested in new loans or used as cash for the city.

At last year's budget meetings, the loan program was brought up by Chuck Conzo, city treasurer, who wondered if the city should investigate whether DCEO would allow them to take the remaining funds and roll them into the city's unrestricted cash. Since then very little has been mentioned about the loan program.

Last week Snyder said the development partnership wanted to set up a committee to administer the funds and that Bergen had said he might already have someone interested in borrowing from them.

This week Snyder told the council that the committee to be established will include himself and the new city administrator, Sue McLaughlin.

When the item came to a vote, seven aldermen approved the motion, with Tom O'Donohue voting against it.

City approves racing schedule

On the agenda for the evening was a vote to approve the 2013 racing schedule for Lincoln Speedway. Norm and Yvonne Horn of the speedway were on hand for the vote. After the motion was made, Horn stepped up to the podium to field any questions that might occur during discussion.

This year Horn has asked for a schedule that begins the latter part of March with race practice days and concludes at the end of October. The schedule is approximately a month longer than it has been in past years. He has also asked that instead of being given three 30-minute extensions for the season, that he be given a total of 90 minutes to be used at his discretion, but with no single extension to last longer than 30 minutes.

During discussion, David Wilmert told Horn that while in the past he has always voted in favor of the track, this year he would not. He said his reason was that the season had gotten too long. He said the season running from March through October only gave those who don't like the noise a few months of reprieve, and he didn't think that was right.

He said that if Horn changes his schedule next year, he might go back to supporting the track.

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Horn did tell Wilmert that at this point, he didn't really know for sure that the October races would take place. He said he had put them on the schedule, hoping to be able to have them, and knowing that if he didn't put them on now, he would definitely not be able to have them.

Melody Anderson also pointed out that in the reports Horn had provided to the council last week, the report from last year did not include the practices in April, even though they did take place. Therefore the only time actually being added to the schedule was the October dates.

Mayor Keith Snyder reminded Horn and the council that with the change in the way the curfew extensions will be maintained, Horn will notify him each time one is used. Horn is to email Snyder when he uses a curfew extension, telling him how much time he used, so the city can also keep track of the 90 minutes available.

Before the item went to a vote, Marty Neitzel did speak up, saying she was not particularly a fan of racing, but she was pleased with anything that brings people into Lincoln, and the track does just that.

When the item came to a vote, Wilmert voted against it with everyone else voting in favor; thus, the motion passed 7-1.

City approves new farm lease

The city of Lincoln owns 40 acres of farm ground that is basically landlocked with no public road to it. The ground around the city farm is farmed by Kent Cross. For the last few years Cross has leased the ground from the city.

The leasing method the city and Cross use includes a base cash-rent amount, plus a share of the crop beyond a certain yield point. For the last few years Cross has raised corn on the 40 acres and paid $250 per acre for the base, plus whatever the yield share came to. The rate and yield share are based on a commonly used formula, set according to the crop being raised and the average of 12 months of commodity prices.

At last week's committee of the whole, building and grounds chair Jonie Tibbs said it was time to renew the lease. This year Cross wants to raise soybeans on the ground instead of corn. The base rent per acre would increase to $350 per acre as a result of the change of crop.

At the meeting last week, Tibbs said that Cross has been very good to work with, and she wanted to continue leasing the ground to him. Neitzel also noted that the year before last, the city had seen a nice return on the lease. Last year they did not, due to the drought and its effect on the yields.

When the item came to a vote this week, all eight aldermen voted in favor of continuing the lease with Cross.

Next week the workshop meeting of the committee of the whole will be on primary election day. For this reason the council will meet one hour earlier, at 6 p.m.


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