Bill Sweeney (L) was formally sworn in as Alderman, Ward Three on Tuesday, November 26, 2013 by Savanna City Clerk Paul Hartman. (PA photo/Michel Miler)
By MICHAEL MILLER | For The Prairie Advocate News
SAVANNA – William “Bill” Sweeney was formally sworn in as Alderman, Ward Three on Tuesday, November 26, 2013 at 333 Chicago Avenue in Savanna, repeating the oath of office before the entire City Council. Sweeney, who replaces Merle Long, was recommended for appointment to this position by Mayor Tony McCombie, and that recommendation was unanimously approved by the full Council.
Sweeney’s term will expire on April 30th, 2015.
This meeting was attended by Council members Bill Robinson, Ray Skiles, Peg Haffey, Jeff Griswold, Christine Lee, Lisa Robinson and Gary Scott Law. Mayor McCombie, City Clerk Paul Hartman, City Attorney Phil Jensen, Police Chief Michael Moon, Fire Chief Shawn Picolotti, Public Works Superintendent John Lindeman, and Treasurer/Comptroller Sheryl Sipe were also in attendance.
Mr. Robinson delivered the Finance Committee report, a brief highlight from the previous committee meeting. Council approved applying for a CDAP grant for a water main replacement on East Bowen Street. The City needs a permit through the IEPA before applying for the grant. Lindeman said that he’d talked with MSA Engineering who had agreed to do the design engineering for the project and not charge for it until the next budget year. The Council later approved this recommendation.
Community Funding and Planning Services charged the City for their loan administration work for the water meter replacement project, totaling $12,000.00. The committee recommended this payment and the full Council approved.
Council approved Warrant 7A, additional invoices for the previous month, at a cost of $4.644.99.
McCombie recommended, and the Council approved, the appointments of Larry Melaas and Tim Hartman to seven year terms on the City planning commission, with terms ending on November 27th, 2020.
The City received one bid for the property at 1708 Chicago Avenue, from a “Mr. Duda” at 1406 Belmont in Savanna, for $505.00. The bid was accepted by Council.
Council dealt with a plethora of ordinances, in both first and second readings. Ordinance #2068, dealing with the requirements for advance notice of parades and open air meetings, was amended due to Law’s concern about potential infringement upon citizens’ right to assemble and free speech. Thus, Jensen amended the language so that advance notice for parades would be required at seven days, whereas for open air meetings advance notice would be required at three days.
Council likewise fully approved the disposal of surplus property, namely a Galbreath Stationary Compactor.
The Savanna Museum and Cultural Center requested removal of a tree near their building, and after a moderate discussion, the Council allowed for this request, at City cost.
The first reading of Ordinance #2070, which would revise the annual budget ordinance (#2032) so that the Social Security Tax could be taken out of the IMRF fund, was approved.
Ordinance #2071, the annual tax levy, saw its first reading approved, as well.
A lengthy discussion of the dynamics of the tax abatement of 2004A and 2004B bonds ensued during this agenda item, with Lee asking what exactly these bonds entailed and then how this benefited businesses, and the city as well.
Water Replacement Ordinances
Next, Lindeman explained a long list of ordinances relevant to the upcoming installation and use of new water meters. Some of the areas these ordinances covered were granting the City the legal right to access residents’ premises in order to install the devices, responsibility for repair of the devices, testing of the devices and fee for this services.
Notable among these ordinances’ provisions is that should a citizen feel that the meter is not functioning properly, they are able to have that device sent out for testing, and if it is proven that it is, in fact, not working correctly, they will not be charged for the repair and other costs associated with the test. If, however, the device is found to be working correctly, they will be charged for the test.
Another ordinance allows that “if an authorized agent of the water department is unable to gain access to a premises for any reason to install, repair, replace or inspect a water meter, or obtain a reading of the water meter after making two attempts to contact the customer and/or property owner, the water may be shut off by the water department and an estimated charge made for the amount of water consumed.
“In case water is shut off for any such reason, it will not be turned on until such time as an authorized agent of the water department has been given access to the premises to install, repair, replace, or inspect a water meter or obtain a reading of the water meter and payment for the estimated bill has been made in full plus a turn on fee per section 804-23, schedule 8, of this chapter.”
These six ordinances’ six first readings were approved, with second and final readings to be conducted at the next scheduled meeting.
Law informed the Council that on Monday, December 9th a meeting for those interested in the future of the Savanna Swimming Pool will be held.
Lee asked, in light of the coming winter, if there were snow routes set up by the City, and Lindeman and the mayor said there weren’t presently, though the mayor acknowledged it was something they wanted to look into.
Hartman said that while there were such routes in the past, where it failed was when the cars had to be towed in order to properly plow around them, and in the City’s possession something happened to those cars, then the City was liable for that damage or potential theft.
Lindeman noted that with the sewer lining project nearly done, about $70,000.00 was left for other projects and these were being looked at. Notices for the meter reading project would be going out within the next couple of weeks, with the contractor feeling that in two months the installation could be completed, though he personally felt it might take a bit longer.
Also, the design for the wastewater treatment plant would be starting in the next couple of months as well; he also asked for patience as the department is down a man presently.
Moon referred to an article in the Chicago Tribune detailing the fact that the Illinois Supreme Court has thrown out the rule that would allow an oil company in Cook County to move their point of sale office out of Cook County. It was not ruled illegal but said that the legislature must rewrite the relevant rules and the effect of this could fall on Savanna and the situation with Palatine Oil, as Savanna shares a similar situation with that company.
The mayor closed the meeting by wishing everyone a happy Thanksgiving.