Braidwood City Council discusses water rate increase
Braidwood City Council met Tuesday, April 26.
Here are the minutes as provided by Braidwood:
CITY OF BRAIDWOOD
City Council Regular Meeting Minutes
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Call to Order
Mayor Vehrs called the meeting to order at 7:00 pm.
Pledge of Allegiance
Mayor Vehrs asked the Scouts lead us again tonight in the pledge of allegiance.
Elected Officials present: Commissioner Hibler, Commissioner Hutton, Commissioner Smith, Commissioner Tessler and Mayor Vehrs were present.
Appointed officials present: City Attorney Bryan Kopman, City Administrator Andy Galatte, Chief Nick Ficarello and City Clerk Sue Grygiel were present. City Engineer was absent.
Jim Canup, Addressed the 4% Water/Sewer increase that is on the Agenda tonight. He explained that this goes into effect every year on May 1st and has been going on for a very long time. He said that since this has gone into effect back in 1977 he can only remember two times that the increase was once forgone and the other cut down to 2%. Jim said he feels we need to give a break to the citizens on this because we have done this increase for a lot of years. He said that he hopes we can give the citizens a break this year. Comm. Hutton asked Jim Canup do you want me to answer that know and Jim replied yes.
Comm. Hutton said it’s very simple, next year we have to paint and pressure wash two water towers, about $300,000. They like to get paid when they do the work. That’s why we have the rate increase for these upgrades, updates and they’re mandated they have to be. Jim Canup said he just wanted to give the history of it. Comm. Hutton said hates to do it but we have to do it. Jim Canup said if we could give the citizens a break he’d like to see it. Comm. Hutton replied sure we would.
Angie Hutton, She just wanted to let people know that she has spoken with Andy several times about Red Carpet and on a weekend it’s hard to get volunteers. So they’ve talked and Andy is going to help with Red Carpet. She is still getting information in from vendors, so whoever is going to be in charge of that to let her know, who will be there for them to sign in? Andy said he will be there both days, 6:00 Saturday to start, and whatever it takes to get it done! Andy said he has some volunteers coming Friday. Andy also said once Angie gives him the list we will address who goes where. Crown Flooring is willing to let the one vendor set up in his lot, but he will also be having his own-people who are associated with his business doing their grand opening that day. Andy told Angie keep him informed and they’ll get it done.
Wayne Saltzman, He wanted to welcome our council and audience along with the City of Braidwood tomorrow night, he’s doing a presentation on “Braidwood to Braidwood”. Last November Wayne had a great chance to go to Braidwood Australia. He’s going to explain that to everyone with over 70 photo’s tomorrow night here in council chambers at 7:00pm.
Walter (Freak) Top Fuel Saloon, one of the owners of this new establishment. They have been open now for just over three weeks so came tonight to give an update on what’s happening. As the Chief can tell you we haven’t had any complaints, actually did have one noise complaint but actually turned out to be unfounded. He said they will continue to run a very tight ship at Top Fuel Saloon. They have had three national tours come through town, one country, two rock n roll. Next month they have three rock shows and one country coming through. Also working nationally to bring in larger events to the Braidwood area. He said they’re very proud to say they raised $5,013 that both the Mayor and his wife were part of shaving their heads for St. Baldrick’s for children’s cancer, and was glad to host this event. Freak said they’re also helping out the Braidwood Healthy Community Coalition with their run in couple of weeks at the Braidwood Rec Club providing sound and help give away their awards. They are really looking forward to being part of the community.
Bob Walsh, I have been working with the city since March 10th, my engagement began as an effort to help the new Finance Director who is relatively new in her role. Have gone through some of the city’s basic accounting procedures and processes as part of getting acclimated, as you all know starting a new job can be challenging particularly in the municipal sector. Our work quickly shifted to focus on the budget because the timing of the year, March and April being budget season for the city. They have found some interesting things. The focus of what he is trying to do is to help the city look at its processes and procedures in observance of the existing city ordinances from the standpoint of getting the budget prepared and passed per procedures found in the ordinance. What we’ve found is what so many are going through change, there are opportunities for improvement in terms of processes and procedures. Specifically what he pointed out is that the city is currently facing what he would describe as an issue financially speaking, not yet calling it a problem. He’s saying that it’s an issue that if not addressed will become a problem and then subsequently would become a crisis. To be frank this is not like what the State of Illinois is facing. Bob said what he can say as fact is that getting the city’s financial annual reports, there has been a depletion of the city’s financial resources going back over the last several years.
Currently Fiscal Year ending 2016 is projected to run another deficit on the governmental activities side. However this year’s deficit is projected to be significantly less than 2015’s deficit, about the same for 2014 deficit, but even more significantly less than 2013 and 2012. This leaves the city with some critical decisions about Fiscal Year 2017 budget and beyond as well. The solution to this is not a one year solution, needs to be addressed in the immediate term then followed up with initiatives and projects that would be designed to get the city back to a position where it’s generating financials dependable resources rather than depleting. Bob stopped here and asked council about any questions thus far? A resident asked if the Police Pension Fund is included in this deficit? Bob advised that the Police Pension is a standalone fund on its own, so no it’s not included. Resident asked if we’re behind on the Pension Fund? Bob said from what he can see he doesn’t believe we are and could be largely because it’s mandated by state statute, so this had been excluded from our work because of that condition.
Public Comment closed at 7:30pm.
Approval of Minutes
The minutes for the April 12, 2016 Regular Meeting were approved as read. Motion made by Comm. Hutton, seconded by Comm. Tessler. Mayor Vehrs asked for discussion. Motion approved with 5 ayes, 0 nays (Hutton, Tessler, Hibler, Smith & Mayor Vehrs).
REPORTS BY CITY OFFICIALS
Mayor Vehrs asked to entertain a motion for Scout Brandon Schulte to earn his Eagle Scout Patch by installing a flagpole at the Park on Route 53. Comm. Tessler made the motion, seconded by Comm. Smith. Mayor asked for discussion. Motion approved 5 ayes, 0 nays (Tessler, Smith, Hibler, Hutton & Mayor Vehrs).
Mayor Vehrs then addressed the 47th Annual Municipal Clerks Week, honoring all of our clerks here in city hall and Mayor will sign the Proclamation for Municipal Clerks Week.
Mayor addressed his agenda item regarding the contract with the Building Inspector. His contract is up at the end of the month and asked the council what they would like to do. Mayor said we’re paying $55,000 a year for a part time inspector, do we want to look for someone on our own, do we want to renew contract, asking for suggestions from the council. Comm. Smith said he would like to look for someone cheaper, we are paying through the nose for what we are getting; when Braidwood needs an inspector he can’t be here he has to be in Coal City. Comm. Smith feels we should have our own inspector. Comm. Tessler said his biggest concern is having someone dedicated solely to Braidwood. In life you pay for quality, yes we all want the lowest cost but not saying our inspector now is not good quality. Comm. Tessler said he always believed this, that he should not be working for two separate city governments. Comm. Hutton said we should solicit around for some prices of availability to see what we can find. Mayor Vehrs said let’s put an ad in the paper and post it. Administrator spoke at this time and advised council that this contract rolls over but we have a 15 day cancellation clause in it. Comm. Hutton asked when we signed and Andy said automatically rolls over May 1st, and he has already talked with the Administrator of Coal City and he explained to him and he’s well aware that Braidwood may be exercising that right. The attorney said that before we cancel that agreement we of course would come to the council for that motion.
Mayor Vehrs then read his report on things that have happened over the last year of office.
Andy said at the last meeting we talked about some vacant properties the city owns and as you all know we’re not in the real estate business. I have given everyone a copy of a listing of 5 realtors for your review. Once again it’s up to the council what you want to do with these properties, how you want to sell them; sealed bids or contact a realtor that everyone agrees upon and list with them. If you so choose we can continue to maintain them. One of the properties off of Erie is there a sewer line going through it? Comm. Hutton said it’s in front of property, doesn’t go through property. Andy said there are two people that live there and want to buy it, so we’ll have to look at and see what we can do. Andy told council if they want to discuss further fine, give him direction that’s fine too. Comm. Hutton said figure out what cost is per lot, put for sale sign up and have them call city hall. The mayor said we need to declare them surplus first. Andy said let him talk to a few of the realtors listed, see what the properties are worth and get back to everyone while declaring surplus prior.
The only agenda item the clerk had was a request from the Will-Grundy Counties Building & Construction Trades for their 30th Annual D.A.D.S. (Dad’s Against Diabetes) Day on Saturday, June 18, 2016 from 8am-12 noon. The clerk then asked to consider a motion to approve the D.A.D.S. Day request.
A motion was made by Comm. Smith, seconded by Comm. Hutton to approve the D.A.D.S. Day on June 18th, 8am-12pm. Mayor asked for discussion. Motion approved 5ayes, 0 nays (Smith, Hutton, Hibler, Tessler and Mayor Vehrs).
Atty. Kopman said you have three Resolutions to consider this evening. On April 28, 2015 the city went through a closing on the sale of property to a company that ended up renting the property to the owner of the Family Dollar Store. Family Dollar was built, that closing was done I think in the afternoon before Mayor Vehrs was sworn into office. Unfortunately for us the people involved with that transaction overlooked some significant issues related to the surrounding property owners and city, as you know the city owns property behind that store, there’s an AT & T building and some facilities behind the store and you have Casey’s nearby. All of these parcels need access easements, public utility easement, storm water easement and none of that was provided at the time of the closing. So once property was sold quite frankly Family Dollar could of not done anything. We have worked with them and it has literally taken many, many months, here we are almost a year to the day after closing trying to get this resolved.
So Resolution 16-09 Authorizes Execution of the Storm water & Public Utility Easement in relation to that property. We have worked very closely with Family Dollar and they’ve signed off on the easement language and we are comfortable with that language and asking for the city councils permission to move forward with that.
A motion was made by Comm. Smith to approve Resolution 16-09, Authorizing Execution of Access Easement Agreement seconded by Comm. Hutton. Mayor asked for discussion. Motion approved 5 ayes, 0 nays (Smith, Hutton, Hibler, Tessler & Mayor Vehrs).
Atty. Kopman addressed his second agenda item, Resolution 16-10, Authorizing Execution of an Access Easement Agreement and again this is needed for the city to be able to access its land behind the Family Dollar and allow AT & T to access its facilities. Again we worked with Family Dollar and AT & T on this, they both reviewed the language and have signed off on the same. For the city to move forward he asked the Resolution be passed.
A motion was made by Comm. Smith to approve Resolution 16-10, seconded by Comm. Hutton. Mayor asked for discussion. Motion approved 5 ayes, 0 nays (Smith, Hutton, Hibler, Tessler & Mayor Vehrs).
Atty. Kopman addressed Resolution 16-11, Authorizing Execution of a Partial Release of Lien. With the High Speed Rail Project coming through town IDOT has had to take some land and the land it’s taking the city has a lien on relative to a road that was supposed to be in. That lien will still remain with the property as it’s owned by a private entity, but we would simply be releasing the lien as it affects that portion or sliver that IDOT is taking for High Speed Rail. The attorney said where Bob Jones was added to the agenda this is what it relates to. We have received a partial release of lien from the state and we are comfortable what they are asking for and if council so grant it we can move this project forward.
A motion was made by Comm. Hutton to approve Resolution 16-11, seconded by Comm. Smith. Mayor asked for discussion. Motion approved 5 ayes, 0 nays (Hutton, Smith, Hibler, Tessler & Mayor Vehrs).
REPORTS BY CITY COMMISSIONERS
Accounts & Finances
Comm. Hibler made a motion to pay the total bills due on Check Register A and Check Register B in the amount of $161,115.13 seconded by Comm. Smith. Mayor asked for discussion. Motion approved with 5 ayes, 0 nays (Hibler, Smith, Hutton, Tessler & Mayor Vehrs).
Comm. Hibler made a motion to pay out of our Federal Seizure Account to Sigmund Technologies, recovery data for Deputy Chief’s hard drive in the amount of $1,305, seconded by Comm. Tessler. Mayor asked for discussion. Motion approved with 5 ayes, 0 nays (Hibler, Tessler, Hutton, Smith & Mayor Vehrs).
Comm. Hibler made a motion to pay the Payroll Expenses due in the amount of $76,391.21 seconded by Comm. Hutton. Mayor asked for discussion. Motion approved 5 ayes, 0 nays (Hibler, Hutton, Tessler, Smith & Mayor Vehrs).
Streets & Public Improvements
Comm. Smith said he has quite a bit to say. #1, I have done no wrong, I have broken no city rule, and I have broken no county or no state law. I hired my grandson he qualified and worked for the city before, he’s given no favors, and he’s doing the job. I broke no law and don’t know who put that in the paper! I want the good citizens to know that I have not failed them! #2, I had not and did not have the city workers cut wood for me. The trees were contaminated wood, took some down to plant and my truck was there also so I took some out to my farm and burnt it because it was contaminated and I did not charge the city anything! I’m trying to help the taxpayers and do the best I can without costing taxpayers more money and broke no contract. How come nobody sees me picking up those plastic bottles on side of roads or in ditches? They don’t see those dead animals I pick up and do away with. They don’t see these things! On Saturdays and Sundays I’m out watching where I can to talk to people to see where I need to work, I am spending a lot of my time for the taxpayer and again have done no wrong and intend to go on! Comm. Smith addressed the high water bills that he said happened under the previous mayor, who was sitting in the audience. The former mayor began laughing at Comm. Smith, and the commissioner said he was cause for our water bills going up, not taking the money that was set aside from previous administration to go the treatment plant loan to bring down the cost to the taxpayers, the former mayor added money to the loan that had been put in place by the previous administration, and Fay said that’s why are water bills have gone up so high, shouldn’t of been. Fay said it started with a lie and still have the lie! If you want to do good for Braidwood start helping and stop criticizing! If I’m wrong and someone proves me wrong I will stand up here and apologize and bow to my feet that I am wrong! That water bill shouldn’t be what it is!!
Public Buildings & Property
Comm. Hutton addressed Ordinance 16-05, Amending Chapt. 86-Utilites of the Braidwood Code. This changes the new rate that we’re going into now starting with our billing as of May 1st. We are going back to bi-monthly billing. The monthly billing was a good idea but the girls in the office can’t keep up. We keep falling behind every month. Comm. Smith questioned is this ordinance only to go back to bi-monthly billing and not to raise the rates? Comm. Hutton said the raise is in there also. Comm. Smith said he disagrees with that. Comm. Hutton said that’s ok.
Comm. Hutton made a motion that we pass Ordinance 16-05, Mayor asked do we have a second?
Comm. Tessler questioned is there any possible way that we cannot raise water & sewer each 4%? Comm. Hutton said we should have done the work needed with these increases 4 yrs. ago, been putting it off as long as we can and that’s the problem. Comm. Hutton said he has some reserve but the EPA requires you have reserves in case of a disaster or problems. Hopefully our bills are paying the loan payment and the interest, making those satisfactory and keeping up with the expenses. Wages go up, Com Ed goes up, gas company goes up so what do you do. The Mayor asked can we go to 3% on water & sewer for 6 months, can we split it? Comm. Hutton said it’s in the budget for 4% this year across the board. Comm. Hutton said maybe next year we can cut it back I don’t know. Last administration we thought by going monthly it would help pay the bills but we have more people delinquent now than we had then, it went the opposite of what we thought it would do. At this point a resident Tim Duran began to ask Comm. Hutton a question, Attorney Kopman spoke up and said at this point we aren’t in Public
Discussion it’s up to the Commissioner if he wants to entertain questions that’s up to him. Comm. Hutton said sure ask your question. Tim Duran said that going bi-monthly do you think it will get more people paying? That’s what it did in past, we had less delinquent bills than we do now and it went the opposite of what we thought it would do hard to believe. Comm. Tessler spoke and said we need to set a ceiling on these delinquent bills, it’s a fact of life you don’t pay your bills you don’t get services in this life. These are the people that are ongoing and every month and that’s unacceptable. Comm. Hutton said people come in with (4) checks $50 a piece, the first one clears, second bounces, then here we go again chasing everyone down again, taking time away from girls in the office, snowballs. Comm. Tessler said we need to start collecting. Comm. Hutton said he’s talked to other towns, you don’t pay the bill, and 15 days later you’re shut off. Comm. Tessler asked Hutton didn’t we go from $50,000 in delinquent last year to $100,000 in delinquent this year? Comm. Smith we need to do something to help people not make it worse and keep adding to the problem. Comm. Tessler stressed the city does not have consequences in place now for these delinquent bills; they aren’t being disciplined for their actions.
Mayor asked if there was a second on the floor? Comm. Tessler seconded the motion to approve Ordinance 16-05, Amending Chapt. 86 Utilities. Roll Call Vote Taken, 2 ayes (Hutton, Tessler) 3 nays (Hibler, Smith & Mayor Vehrs) Motion Denied.
Public Health & Safety
Comm. Tessler read the Chief’s Stats from 4/12-4/25/16. Chief also provided Braidwood Annual Report for Narcotics enforcement for fiscal year 2015-2016 which Comm. Tessler read. Comm. Tessler again commended the Chief, the council, but especially the officers who do the work. This is an ongoing battle and hopefully one day we won’t have to be dealing with in the future.
Planning & Zoning Board Report
Zoning Chair Michelle Serena addressed the council and advised them that the May 2nd board meeting was cancelled due to lack of an agenda.
A motion was made by Comm. Hutton to go into Executive Session at 7:55 pm to discuss personnel, a meeting with an External Auditor to discuss internal control weaknesses and identify fraud risk areas and to invite Bob Walsh to join in Executive Session to discuss that portion, seconded by Comm. Tessler. Motion approved 5 ayes, 0 nays (Hutton, Tessler, Hibler, Smith & Mayor Vehrs).
An amendment was made to add Julie Quigley into Executive Session by Atty. Kopman. Roll Call Vote Taken to Accept. 5 ayes, 0 nays (Hutton, Tessler, Hibler, Smith & Mayor Vehrs).
A motion was made by Comm. Hutton, seconded by Comm. Smith to reconvene our Regular Session at 8:51pm. Motion approved 5 ayes, 0 nays (Hutton, Smith, Hibler, Tessler & Mayor Vehrs).
Mayor Vehrs advised that there will be no action taken following Executive Session.
Administrator Galatte advised that the meeting of the Aquatic Center was today, it was our first meeting and the committee is formulated. We need to still get a few more people. The dates for the Aquatic meetings will be the second and fourth Tuesday of the month at 1:30pm. Again this is an independent committee; they make recommendations to the Administrator who then gives to the city council.
Comm. Smith commented that’s what we need a lot of new business. Comm. Hutton brought up that instead of going 4% increase on water and sewer we can go 3%, cut some back and make sure we have enough money to pay the bills this year and next year.
Comm. Smith addressed Comm. Tessler’s question from a previous meeting about 6th Street. The city engineer is working on a permit and we will be using the pipe we have, not sure how long it’s going to take. The permit will be coming from the Army Corp of Engineers.
Comm. Tessler made motion to adjourn the regular meeting, seconded by Comm. Hibler. Motion approved with 5 ayes, 0 nays (Tessler, Hibler, Hutton, Smith & Mayor Vehrs). Meeting adjourned.