Council maintains full-majority voting rule
By Bert Lehman
The Clintonville City at its July 14 meeting approved turning its portion of Airport Road into a gravel road.
Director of Public Works Toby Kersten said the plan would be to place 1,300 tons of limestone gravel on the road, which would also involve reclaiming the road. The originally estimate for that was $14,300, but because of an error by the gravel supplier, the new estimate was $11,015. The gravel supplier agreed to honor the original quote despite the error.
Interim City Administrator Chuck Kell said the money would come from the Public Works budget because it has realized enough savings this year to cover the cost.
Kersten said this option will give the city an opportunity to monitor how the road holds up during the winter and spring.
“Hopefully we can fit it in the budget, if it does hold up, to pave it in the future,” Kersten said.
The council unanimously approved making its portion of Airport Road a gravel road. Aldermen Brad Rokus and John Wilson were excused from the meeting.
Council President Lois Bressette presided over the meeting because Mayor Judy Magee was excused from the meeting due to health reasons. Bressette retained her voting rights while she presided over the meeting.
The council failed to pass a motion that would have changed the requirement for a motion to pass from “a majority of the council” to “a majority of council members present.”
Alderwoman Mary-Beth Kuester said she opposed changing the requirement.
“You need to be here if you’re representing your district, but this way, there could be seven people here and four people could carry the vote on an important issue,” Kuester said. “We’ve had a long tradition of having the regular majority, so I would urge we stay with the regular majority.”
Alderman Steve Kettenhoven disagreed. He said what constitutes a majority needs to be changed in order for the public to be justifiably represented.
“I don’t see any difference between a 4-3 vote, or a 5-5 vote and allowing the mayor to break the tie,” Kettenhoven said. “We’re never going to get things accomplished if we keep putting things off because we don’t have 10 members here.”
Four council members voted for the change, while four voted against the change. Those voting no included Kuester, Alderwomen Gloria Dunlavy and Jeannie Schley, and Alderman Jim Krause.
Kell updated the council regarding the Angelus/Aster Development Agreement and TIF issue. He said he and city attorney April Dunlavy met with the attorney representing the owners of that project.
“To paraphrase it, they have a different understanding of how their tax payments over the years went towards paying down that TID investment that the city made for them on that site,” Kell said. “They feel they’ve accomplished and repaid the city money that was invested. But if you look at it in reality based on what the debt issue was and the interest, basically all that’s been paid is the interest to this point. The debt is still due.”
Around $300,000 is outstanding if it is paid off now, Kell said. It could reach $700,000 to $800,000 because of interest if it is extended through the life of the TID.
Kell said he and April Dunlavy agreed that she needs to send a letter to the attorney along with documentation showing what the payment history has been and how much was applied towards the debt.
“I don’t feel we’re there yet as far as an agreement,” Kell said.
Kell also informed the council that he received an email earlier in the day from the attorney, asking the city to help correct storm water issues on the property.
“Apparently that site was tied into a storm sewer on the street that is undersized and cannot handle the water, so the building frequently floods during heavy rains,” Kell said.
Kell said the email indicated they are seeking a new sanitary storm sewer lateral built out to Main Street, and tied into the new system being constructed on Main Street. They are asking the city to approve that and they would pay for it through special assessments.
“I feel we should work with them, but only if we can get an agreement on the other element in this thing,” Kell said. “I can’t see the city going into more debt and working on a future payment schedule for an improvement if we can’t get an agreement on what’s already on site.”
Main Street update
Kersten provided the council with an update on the Main Street reconstruction project.
He said all pavement has been removed, as well as the bridge deck.
“The next work to begin will be the installation of a pier for the new bridge and the south abutment,” Kersten said.
Work on the new storm sewers is scheduled to begin around the end of July.
“So far construction is on schedule,” Kersten said.
The council unanimously approved purchasing and installing pedestrian crosswalk warning signals at the two pedestrian crossings to its manufacturing plant, which is located in TID 7.
Kell said TID 7 has not performed as well as the city would like, but TID 3 is doing well and it is a donor TIF to TID 7. He said the $7,200 cost of the warning signals would probably come out TID 3.
The council unanimously approved applying to the state health insurance program. The cost to apply is $2,400 and there is no guarantee the premiums will be cheaper. The funds will come from the contingency account.
“I think it’s worth it just to find out because you may be passing up an opportunity [to save money],” Kell said. “I know it costs some money to find out.”
Even if the premiums aren’t cheaper, Kell said finding out what the premiums are will let the city know for sure which plan is the most economical.
The council unanimously approved upgrading the city’s financial software at a cost of $26,000.
Currently, the city uses software programs that have limited compatibility with each other. The city’s auditors have recommended the software change.
The software purchase was scheduled to be in next year’s capital budget, so it will be moving up one year.