Tuesday, April 21, 2009
sponsored by Graue Inc.

City: City Hall to get new roof; other budget matters; downtown prom and Route 66 events approved; Arbor Day recognition; scavenger permit stickers dropped

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[April 21, 2009]  For the first time in several weeks Alderman Buzz Busby was in attendance at the Monday night meeting of the city council. As he walked in the door he was greeted with a round of applause.

During the course of the evening, he said that he wanted to apologize for his absence, especially when it came to his inability to contribute to the building of the city budget for this year.

Busby had been hospitalized.

City attorney Bill Bates took the lead in saying that there were no apologies needed, as other council members agreed and added that they were all just happy to see him back in his chair on the council.

New City Hall roof is a go

Prior to the voting meeting of the council, the finance committee met to discuss various topics, including how to pay for a new roof for City Hall.

As the committee has been working on the 2009-10 budget for the city, the roof replacement has been the elephant in the room. With funds stretched to their limit, there seemed to be no easy answer for how to pay for this project.

At last week's workshop meeting, Les Plotner, city treasurer, had suggested borrowing the money for the work and had offered suggestions on what areas of the budget could be cut in order to cover a loan payment.

To make the annual loan payment, the city is going to need approximately $42,000 per year for the next four years.

Alderwoman Melody Anderson said that Plotner had spent a great deal of time helping her figure out how to rework the budget, and she had received suggestions from Mayor-elect Keith Snyder. The proposed budget cuts outlined at this meeting are slightly different from last week's.

Plotner's original recommendations included cutting $10,000 out of the building and grounds repairs and maintenance budget, reducing GIS development from $15,000 to $5,000, reducing the fire department's fire station planning funds from $15,000 to $5,000, and eliminating the proposed $10,000 for citywide cleanup.

The new recommendation includes dropping the citywide cleanup amount from $10,000 to $5,000, doing away with the $2,500 budget for Heritage Days, cutting the commerce park package line from $10,000 to $2,500, cutting $10,000 out of the GIS development plan, dropping the fire station planning funds from $15,000 to $10,000, and removing $2,000 from the building repairs and maintenance line for public grounds and buildings.

Compared with last week's plan, this will give some funding back to a citywide cleanup project and will reduce the cut to the fire station planning funds.

The finance committee agreed to the changes in the budget and supported going forward with a vote on the roof replacement.

Alderwoman Joni Tibbs made the motion at the regular meeting to accept the bid of Top Quality Roofing out of Mount Zion. The total bid was $184,349, which includes a 10 percent contingency for unforeseen complications. This bid was the least expensive of three. Other bidders for the project were Henson Robinson of Springfield and Gates Johnson Roofing Co of Decatur.

The council was reminded that there is $28,758 available immediately from an insurance claim on the roof. The balance of the bill will be financed and will not exceed $156,000.

The vote carried unanimously at 11-0, as Alderman Verl Prather had to leave before the vote, due to work obligations.

City treasurer's report for March

With the month ending March 31, the current budget year is 91.7 percent completed. Plotner said that most of the budgeted expenditures for the city have hit the 100 percent mark and a few are slightly over.

Plotner said that while the city is over budget in some areas, they are still within the appropriation amounts for those lines. The challenge for the month of April will be to make certain that expenses do not exceed appropriations.

He also commented on the city sewer fund, saying that he had heard from the city clerk's office that the state is behind on payments to the tune of approximately $100,000. The state is responsible for the sewerage bills for Lincoln Developmental Center and Lincoln Correctional Center. Plotner says that the state has not paid the bills since before December 2008.

He said that he realized the state was broke, but Lincoln was struggling as well, and it was time for the state to step up. He encouraged the council to speak to legislators about the problem: "Call them and tell them it is time for them to catch up."

After the meeting, Plotner explained that in Illinois there is an appropriations law that municipalities must follow. He said that when the city puts together its annual budget, the intent is to come in lower than the appropriations amount. The budget is official and needs to be followed as closely as possible, but with the budget being less than appropriations, it provides the city with a cushion in the event of unforeseen expenses or increased costs due to inflation.

Council approves bid for annual audit

At last week's workshop meeting, bids were opened for the annual audit of the city records. Lawrence Travis & Co. of Virden bid a total of $20,600; Estes, Bridgewater & Ogden of Springfield bid $19,500; and Pritchard Osborne LLS out of Litchfield placed a bid totaling $30,000.

In addition to these three, a fourth bid placed by Clifton Gunderson had arrived late and was disqualified from consideration, according to Susan Gehlbach, city clerk.

At this week's meeting, WTI consultant Laura Wernsing reviewed the bids with the finance committee and said that all were in compliance with the bid specifications and that all were qualified to conduct the annual audit.

At the voting meeting, the council voted to award the bid to Estes, Bridgewater & Ogden.

Emergency sirens will go on safety complex

The city and county will enter into an intergovernmental agreement permitting the city of Lincoln to erect emergency warning sirens on the roof of the Logan County Safety Complex. The agreement provides that the city will pay the cost of installation, maintenance and, in the event that the sirens should need to be taken down, removal.

Fire Chief Kent Hulett said that the county is expected to approve the agreement at an adjourned meeting Tuesday evening, and he expects that by the end of next week the sirens will be installed and working.

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Auto Sales

Council approves May 2 Grand March for LCHS prom-goers

A request from Main Street Lincoln was approved, allowing Kickapoo Street to be closed from Broadway to Pulaski Street on May 2, commencing at 6:30 p.m., for the 20th annual Grand March.

The annual Grand March honors prom attendees from Lincoln Community High School. In a televised event, attendees assemble at the Logan County Courthouse and are introduced to the community prior to the prom.

Alderwoman Wanda Lee Rohlfs abstained from the vote due to her affiliation with Main Street. All others present voted in favor of the motion.

Route 66 events approved

The annual Logan County Route 66 Garage Sales will be June 12 and 13.

A request from event coordinators Bruce Huskins and Geoff Ladd was approved, making the grounds at Postville Courthouse available for vendors during the sale.

In addition, the bicentennial Route 66 Association Motor Tour has selected the downtown courthouse as one of their stopping points.

Alderwoman Kathy Horn said that the Route 66 Heritage Foundation of Logan County has requested that the parking spaces surrounding the courthouse be closed off for a special Railsplitter car show between 2 and 6 p.m. on June 13. The request was for parking spaces only, with no street closures involved.

Because the interior spaces around the courthouse are the property of the county, that governing body also had to approve the request. Horn read a memo from John Stewart, chairman of the county's building and grounds committee, stating that the county had no objection to the city blocking off the parking around the courthouse.

Proclamation for Arbor Day

The city council heard a proclamation from the mayor recognizing the Arbor Day celebration on April 15 on the Logan County Courthouse lawn.

As a fulfillment of the Arbor Day Foundation's Tree City USA requirements, the city is this year, in partnership with the Logan County Board, planting a total of eight new trees, which will flank the sidewalks leading up to the courthouse.

The first two were planted last Wednesday at the official celebration.

Three sidewalk repair requests: two approved, one denied

Two city sidewalk repair requests were approved: one made by Terry Werth for property located at 123 Lincoln Ave. and the other at the request of Jeremiah Gibson for property at 531 Eighth St.

A third request, made by Tim Aper for property at 208 and 216 Third St., was denied. Alderman Jeff Hoinacki said the reason this request should be denied is that the sidewalk is brick. He noted that the brick is covered over and needs to be cleaned off.

Alderman David Armbrust said that the sidewalk should be cleaned off and then it could be looked at again to see what condition it is in. When asked whose responsibility it was to clean the sidewalk, Armbrust answered that it was the responsibility of the homeowner.

Council approves change in procedure for scavenger permits

The city has an ordinance allowing scavengers to purchase an annual license for $10. With the license, the scavenger has in the past received a sticker that was to be placed on their vehicle. Anderson told the council last week that city ordinance doesn't say anything about the sticker; the city clerk's office has checked into it and found that these stickers are at the city's discretion; and because they cost the city $5 each to purchase, she wants them to be done away with. She suggested that when scavengers apply for their permit, that they could be given additional copies of the permit for their vehicles.

The scavenger permit ordinance applies to all trash collectors working in the city of Lincoln with the exception of Area Disposal, which is the city's official service.

Because the use of the sticker was never a part of the ordinance, there will be no change in city code, only a change in office procedure, which was approved by the council.


Mayor Pro Tem Marty Neitzel recognized guests for the evening's events. Ron Keller of Lincoln College was there with two of his political science students, Angelique Crusoe and Sean Hughes. Also in attendance were Gene Rohlfs, spouse of Alderwoman Wanda Lee Rohlfs; David Wilmert, alderman-elect; Denise Martinek, city clerk-elect; and Cliff Marble.

Unfinished business

On April 28, there will be a special adjourned meeting commencing at 7 p.m. to vote on items of business passed over this week. Among those matters will be the approval of the 2009-10 budget, the new sign ordinance, if ready, and repairs to the Singleton lift station.


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