City of Lanark Installs New Mayor, Reinstalls Clerk & Two Aldermen
Lanark City Attorney Ed Mitchell swears in (L to R) Weston Burkholder and Anne Lindsay as aldermen, City Clerk Jackie Hawbecker, and Mayor John Huggins. (photo courtesy of Ed Fehlhafer)
By LYNNETTE FORTH | For The Prairie Advocate News
LANARK – April 23rd, 2013 was the last meeting that Ed Stern presided over as Mayor of the City of Lanark. Following the approval of minutes from the April 2nd meeting, Finance reports from April 15th, and April 22nd, and the March Treasurer’s report, City Attorney Ed Mitchell gave the Oath of Office for newly elected officials.
Mayor John Huggins, Aldermen Weston Burkholder and Anne Lindsay, and City Clerk Jackie Hawbecker recited the oath in front of the council and public. Before turning the meeting over to Huggins, Ed Stern spoke with regard to the Treasurer’s report, saying “We actually ended up better in March than in April.” Clerk Hawbecker added, “Twenty five to thirty people actually pay their water bill for the whole year in March.”
Mayor Huggins began his first meeting saying, “Thank you, Ed, for your years of service. We appreciate it”.
Council members reviewed a report from Amy Barnes of Isenhart Realty regarding blighted buildings located at 101 and 105 North Broad Street. Barnes report suggests using TIF funding, and funds from the Lanark Cornerstone Project, with a new estimate showing the stabilization of a brick wall. Barnes was advised by the council to try to get two more estimates, and was told by the council that a meeting of the Streets and Property committee will meet on Friday, May 3rd at 10:00 a.m. in the City Hall to review the situation, and hopefully move toward a decision.
Alderman Tom Kocal asked, “What is the estimated revenue of TIF funds per year”? City Treasurer Michelle Atherton replied “$20,436.00 last year”.
In the general audience portion of the meeting, resident Mary Kosmecki spoke to the council regarding a problem with a trailer being located at 517 West Lanark Avenue.
“It is a hazard for me and the Welch’s (her neighbor). We have been putting up with this for years. When I pull out of my driveway, we cannot see. It needs to be moved. If anybody gets hit, my insurance premium will go up, and the owner will get off scott free,” Kosmecki said. “One time they emptied their sewage and the toilet paper went down the street. It needs to be moved.”
Attorney Ed Mitchell advised that city ordinances state that 72 hour street parking is allowed, then needs to be moved. Alderman Ed Fehlhafer stated, “Someone needs to enforce that, there is more than just this one problem in the City”.
Mitchell added, “They still have to move it every 72 hours even if it’s on public property”. Jackie Hawbecker stated “This isn’t the first time we have talked about this problem”.
Fehlhafer firmly added, “If we don’t enforce this, we can’t do anything, we may as well throw the ordinance on the floor”.
Mayor Huggins advised that he would address the City Police Chief and instruct him to deal with the issue as the ordinance states.
Kocal said, “He can pull it away for 2 hours every three days and move it back? That doesn’t make sense”. Hawbecker replied “I live in that area, and I agree it has been an issue for a long time”.
Janie Dollinger of the Library presented several issues to the council, starting with informing them that the audit would be starting the following day. “The indoor book drop has been very nice for the staff, especially during the rain, and Thank you for those who attended the ribbon cutting ceremony”.
Dollinger raised questions about whether the City would have any items to sell with the prospect of arranging a public sale. Ed Fehlhafer spoke stating “The City needs to have an equipment surplus sale or do something with several items we don’t use anymore. I would be willing to head up that project. It’s just a matter of combining our items, and that of the Library”.
Mayor Huggins suggested that Fehlhafer may want to speak with the School District, and possibly make one large sale.
Dollinger continued informing the council that the Library is thinking of holding a public open house during Old Settlers Days, and asked for input from the council.
On April 2nd, Jackie Hawbecker, Michelle Atherton, Randy Kraft, and library staff met for an in-service meeting to go over the alarm system. “It was very helpful,” Dollinger added.
Moving on to another issue, council members heard from resident Dawn Preston regarding a problem with water flooding the basement of her home on Argyle Street. “We have had extensive damage, and at least two major flooding issues a year. Some work has been done to help, but is not a total fix. We still have a flooding problem in the basement. Our insurance doesn’t cover water damage. I would like this problem taken care of. It’s not due to anything we have done, it’s from construction,” referring to the extensive street and drainage project on S. Argyle and E. Pearl, and the new storm water retention pond.
Alderman Kocal said, “It’s confusing to me to understand what happened. If the City blocked a drain, where else does the water come from”?
Preston explained. “The City had to approve the construction in the 1940’s to go into the storm sewers”.
Kocal replied, “I have no solution. I don’t know what to do. We need to get a report from Mike Leslie,” with Willett and Hofmann, the engineering firm that designed the project.
Preston added, “Something happened in the construction process. They poured six extra yards of cement that had to go somewhere. We are getting up to eight inches of water in our basement. I don’t want to live here anymore. It’s frustrating”.
Kocal explained “Is this the City’s responsibility? It’s our responsibility to find out if it’s our responsibility. We will at least do that”.
Ed Fehlhafer added, “If we find out it’s not our problem then it’s the home owner’s responsibility.”
Kocal motioned to get Willett/Hoffmann to look and see who the problem belongs to, and for them to notify the home owner at the time of inspection. It passed unanimously.
Jackie Hawbecker informed the council that the current electrical company Constellation can no longer offer a lower rate than Com Ed for street lighting. Huggins questioned “Is this just a play by Com Ed to get customers back for a few years and then raise the rates”? Hawbecker added “There is not really anything we can do about it; it’s out of our hands now”.
Huggins urged council members and the public to look at the County Mitigation Plan.
“It has been passed by FEMA, and will be sent back to the county. There are specific projects planned for Lanark. Look it up on the county website,” Huggins said. A resolution needs to be passed by municipalities in order to be put on the next county meeting agenda.
Ed Fehlhafer spoke about a proposal for the annual testing of the fire alarm system at the new Municipal building. “We are going to be paying $365.00 annually and $840.00 on contract for them to come in and do testing to check all systems. All we are doing is allowing them to bill us. I recommend doing this; we can’t do one without the other”.
Anne Lindsay spoke in regard to committee meetings. “We need to have a personnel committee meeting”. Mayor Huggins added “Committees can stand as they are unless anyone has issues”. A personnel committee meeting has been set for May 1st at 10:00 a.m. in City Hall.
An executive session was held to discuss pending litigation. The next meeting is scheduled for May 7th, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall.