Friday, February 29, 2008
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Council Logs Time With Sundry Topics and Issues

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[February 29, 2008]  The Lincoln City Council met and discussed numerous issues Tuesday evening.

You might notice a little sand on the streets

While winter is nearly over, the end is not close enough. The snow and ice have just kept coming. Round after round of plowing and laying down salt has left the city low on salt late in the season.

"The city of Peoria is out," Alderman Dave Armbrust said. We've been looking into it, but more salt may not be available, he said. So, the city has a load of sand that will be mixed with the remaining salt, if need be, he said.

The streets are peeling

Alderman Buzz Busby said that the slurry coat that was put down on city streets last fall is now coming up.

Tremont Street's bad, Neitzel said.

They're all bad, Busby said. He said he first thought it was from the snowplows, but he sees now that it isn't.

City engineer Mark Mathon said that he was not sure what, if any, recourse the city might have to change the situation. A lot of what is being seen now is some stripping away, but the intended purpose of the slurry is to seal cracks and prevent roads from further deterioration from freezing and thawing, and it has done that, he said.

Alderman Rohlfs said, "It is not what we expected."

Mathon said, "I am disappointed that the surface has not held uniformly." When asked, he said that typically you expect to see a five- to seven-year lifespan before another maintenance procedure would be done.

New head of development partnership begins familiarity with city

Alderman Kathy Horn introduced Joel Smiley, the new executive director of the Lincoln & Logan County Development Partnership.

Smiley said that he plans to be meeting people here for the next two months. He was looking forward to meeting with each of the aldermen personally and spending a half-hour to an hour with each one to discuss their thoughts on the future of economic development in their area. He said that he would be back on Monday to discuss more on what he would be doing.

On the issue of new developments

Alderman Buzz Busby had a bone to throw out for aldermen to chew on. He suggested that the city consider adding a special fee to new businesses building in enterprise zones.

The enterprise zone is a state program that provides various forms of tax relief and incentives for businesses that either expand or build new. Currently, the city's share of the offerings includes property tax relief plus waivers on estimate permits, building permits and sewer tap fees.

"It is not necessary under the state statute to waive sewer taps," Busby said, "I think we should change our ordinance, charge them the sewer taps, unless it is needed as an incentive, and that should strictly be done on a case-by-case basis."

City attorney Bill Bates advised that, in his opinion, that could not be changed for as long as the latest enterprise zone agreement is in effect. I don't think you can backtrack on what you've already agreed to in the enterprise zone agreement, he said.

With the extension that went to Elkhart and the Formosa plant in Illiopolis a few years ago, Formosa agreed to handle and pay for the next 10-year renewal, which lasts from 2007 to 2017.

Busby gave as a recent example, that with Starbucks alone, the city will miss out on $10,000 to $12,000 in sewer tap fee. This happens anytime a new business (builds) comes into the enterprise zone, Busby said.

Busby said that the reason for his proposal is that the new businesses to the west are using up the capacity of the wastewater treatment plant expansion that the city did just a few years ago, and the city is "not getting paid for any of those!" The expansion cost $10 million.

Bates agreed that it may be possible to add a new sewer improvement or repair fee that isn't covered by the enterprise zone agreement.

Busby said that he would check with Phil Mahler, the Logan County zoning director, before bringing it up again, adding, if he did bring it up again.

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Property to be vacated to city

Prior to the meeting there was a public hearing. Lincoln property owner Ted Presswood petitioned the city to vacate portions of 21st and North College streets.

Bates said that the Lincoln Planning Commission met and approved the request last week.

There were no objections or comments during the five minutes that it took to open and close the hearing. The matter was placed on the council's agenda to vote on next week.

Solid waste collection set

Alderman Benny Huskins announced that a white-goods (appliances) collection is set to take place at the Logan County Fairgrounds on April 22.

New fiscal year approaching

Budget talks begin on March 15. The new fiscal year starts on May 1.

Alderman Busby said, as a member of the finance committee: "May I suggest that the CPI is 2.2. So I don't expect any line to be more than 2.2, except perhaps the fuel line." His check on the futures projected that oil is going to $120 a barrel, which would probably increase the costs of gasoline to an average of $3.50 a gallon.

The city's fire, police and street department budgets would be most affected.

A lot of emergency calls made on cells

Alderman Jonie Tibbs commented on some figures she saw in the 911 communications report. She observed that there were 1,869 calls in the month of December and that 1,248 of those calls were from cell phones.


Alderman Huskins said that Bobbi Abbott, the Lincoln/Logan County Chamber of Commerce executive director, who has announced her pending resignation, should be recognized for all her efforts. "She does a lot more behind-the-scenes work than people know," he said.


Alderman Neitzel wanted to note that wastewater treatment manager Dave Kitzmiller wrote a letter to the EPA explaining the conditions at the plant on specific dates as due to the high amount of rainfall. His initiative could spare the city from having fines assessed for being out of compliance during recent heavy rains.


Neitzel also credited the clerk's office for their work on sewer bill collections. They turned over $11,202 to the collection agency. They were able to collect $5,600 on non-foreclosures and $1,200 on foreclosure properties. They're out there getting more tax dollars to work for us, Neitzel said. "Your girls are doing a good job," she told Melanie Riggs, city clerk.


Alderman Rohlfs sends her thanks to the street department for taking the Christmas decorations down. With all the weather that we've just had, it was really good of them to do that.

"That's a good crew we have there. They've been out quite a bit," Mayor Davis-Kavelman said.


Alderman Melody Anderson motioned for the council close its public session and go into executive session to discuss employee hiring and compensation, collective bargaining matters, and performance of a public official.

Other matters already reported on that were discussed on Tuesday:


Past related articles:

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