New Municipal Building to Host January 22 Lanark City Council Meeting
By LYNNETTE FORTH | For The Prairie Advocate News
LANARK – If all goes according to plan, the January 22, 2013 meeting of the Lanark City Council will be held in the new Municipal Building. During the January 8 meeting, Library Board President JL Hunter invited the council to attend the next Library Board meeting scheduled for January 15 to see the furniture samples that representatives will be showing. Final inspection of the building is scheduled for January 14, after which keys will be turned over to the City.
Moring Disposal representatives Denny Pate and Larry Moring were on hand to inform council members of the new “tote system” of garbage disposal. The City will need to renew its contract with Moring, so if the new system is going to be used, council members will need to make a decision. The new system will involve providing residents with two 65 gallon containers.
Pate informed the council that Moring employees have suffered time loss injuries due to getting in and out of their trucks, and as a result, have seen a raise in insurance rates.
“We thank the City for its years of service. Your current contract ends in February. Some towns are going to automated programs. The automated systems make disposal easier for residents. Residents would get two totes, 1 for recycling. You can fit a lot of trash into these things. It’s a really good system.”
Council member Ed Fehlhafer questioned, “What about elderly people that only have a small bag of garbage but have to maneuver a 65 gallon toter”? Pate answered, “It’s actually easier to handle. Moring will make provisions to assist people as needed.”
Fehlhafer continued. “What efficiencies could we see?” Pate stated “The totes can sit out year round. If we do a program with yard waste included, the cost would not be much more than the current price. Customers will get a diagram of how to set out the containers. It works really slick. The next step would be for Moring to bring in a proposal plan for the council to review.”
A lengthy discussion on a recent TIF (Tax Increment Finance) application from Roger Burkholder resulted in council members voting to approve Burkholder & Son Precast, Inc. to receive $10,000.00 per year for a period of five years, and a tax abatement of $12,500.00 over sixteen years. The TIF committee had previously recommended $50,000.00 in funds, and $25,000.00 in tax abatement.
Council member Anne Lindsay said, “I don’t see a need to do sixteen years off taxes. I would rather go eight.”
Ed Fehlhafer added, “Sixteen years is a little far fetched. I would like to go less than that.” Alderman Mark Macomber stated, “I support the $50,000.00, but would like to see it spread out over a few years.”
Macomber also asked, “How do we know the money goes where it is earmarked? Not that Roger would be dishonest, but for anyone? We need to make copies of the bills, and get a paper trail.”
TIF committee member Ken Viglietta also informed the council that an application from Steve Cassell of Bella Pizza is still pending.
In another matter, Mayor Ed Stern informed council members that the tarping of the roof of properties on North Broad Street has been finished. Citizens and property owners Amy and Kevin Barnes were present at the meeting to discuss what the city plans to do with the fallen building.
Anne Lindsay informed Barnes that bids for removal of the collapsed materials is scheduled to go out in the next week. Ken Weaver commented that he would like to meet with Barnes in the next couple of weeks to discuss options. Mayor Stern asked council members Kocal, Burkholder and Weaver to get together and see what they can come up with in terms of the buildings. Weaver suggested the use of TIF monies for fixing the roof as a temporary solution. “It’s just a thought,” Weaver added.
Mayor Stern discussed the audit report, stating that the annual report had not yet been received. Attorney Ed Mitchell informed Stern that if the report is late, the State can issue penalties to the City. Mitchell suggested that if penalties should occur, the City should ask the auditors to pay them.
Stern added, “There is a lot of pressure on the local level for cities to really watch their money. When I became Mayor, we only needed to provide one signature on a check, now we need two, and possibly three in the future. I am not blaming the auditors, they are being cautious.”
Stern also reported on the finance summary, which shows the city spending more money than is being brought in. “We still owe another $150,000.00 to the Library and have another bill coming in from Law Excavating. After that, we should start coming back in the positive direction. I think we are in pretty good shape.
“From October 1-December 1, our disbursements doubled,” Stern continued. “That’s rolling through the funds, but with big expenditures. Unfortunately we lost a grant of $71,000.00 for energy at the Library.”
Ken Weaver commented, “I think we are in good shape, but now is the time for healing.”
JL Hunter informed the council that Lanark Public Library Director Janie Dollinger knows of an experienced worker with a background in maintenance that would be willing to work eighteen hours a week in the library at no cost. Dollinger would also like the council to think about purchasing a good vacuum to be used at the library. Dollinger is planning to have an auction or street sale after the move to the new building is completed, to get rid of some used items.
City Attorney Ed Mitchell informed council members that he has been receiving phone calls and letters from a company called ASCAP (American Society of Composers and Publishers) wanting the city to pay for licensing of music. After discussion, the consensus was for Mitchell to investigate the matter further. Mitchell was also instructed to proceed with moving forward on Nuisance notices sent out a few weeks ago.
City Clerk Jackie Hawbecker recommended the transfer of funds from the saving account to the checking account, to cover a recent check to Ringland-Johnson for the Municipal Building.
Fehlhafer reported on the progress of the Municipal Building, advising the council that the final pieces of furniture are due to be delivered, with the sprinklers and alarm system to be set up on Thursday.
“We need to be looking for some shelving for the safe, and we need to be occupying the building as soon as we can,” Fehlhafer said. “It’s going to be fantastic,” Mayor Stern added.
Stern advised council members of the correct procedure for following the chain of command. Stern had received a complaint regarding the city’s website, not being accurate with contact information. A request will be sent to John Huggins to be updated.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:37 p.m. The next meeting will be held on January 22nd in the new Municipal Building, 111 S. Broad St.