DANVILLE — There was little talk about the city’s proposed budget and fire safety fee at Tuesday night’s city council Public Works Committee meeting.
Aldermen again heard from two people, including Firefighters Local 429 union president Jerry Sparks, about how any firefighter cuts would hurt response times, affect response to medical and other calls and how there would be less aggressive tactics with fires in the city.
Sparks said other issues “in the interest of public safety” to also look at before any cuts would be made to firefighters or fire stations should include the city’s square miles, poverty level, railroads and structure fire numbers.
Former alderwoman Nancy O’Kane, the mother of a firefighter, said the gas tax, garbage fee increase and also sewer fee were not popular with the public, but the aldermen had to make the tough choices for additional revenue for roads and the city departments.
The city’s new 2014-2015 proposed budget includes a monthly fire safety fee for residences and businesses of $6.50 as a base that increases $3 more for every 5,000 square feet of roof top with a $35 cap. This offsets a $1 million budget deficit and doesn’t eliminate any firefighter positions for next year.
The fee would begin May 1, with council approval, on garbage and sewer bills. The city must meet some deadlines, however, to meet the May billing cycle.
In addition to implementation of a tiered fire safety fee, Mayor Scott Eisenhauer also is recommending a sustainability analysis of the fire division to be completed no later than Dec. 31.
He said a committee would be appointed to discuss statistical data, with assistance from the University of Illinois, to impartially determine how the fire department should look in the future.
Aldermen didn’t discuss the fee Tuesday night.
Ward 5 Alderman Mike Puhr mentioned landlords still are concerned about the fee.
Some other changes with the budget have been made, such as reducing the animal control line item, with the intent to have environmental code enforcement take over some duties.
Ward 2 Alderman Rick Strebing also said he still wanted the city to look at the $20,000 in the budget for Downtown Danville, Inc.
Ward 5 Alderman Tom Stone asked city officials to look into the city acquiring the water company as a big source of revenue for the city and look at standardizing the location of street lights throughout the city and saving some money.
Stone said many municipalities own their own water distribution and supply.
“(Aqua) makes well in excess of $1 million in profits each year,” Stone said. “It’s been a cash cow everywhere you go.”
In other business Tuesday, the committee recommended:
Approving an engineering agreement for the Bowman Avenue reconstruction project. The city will appropriate $500,000 in motor fuel tax funds for the project.
The city requires material testing services for the project and the city will be required to match 20 percent of the construction cost of the project.
The agreement for professional services is with ERI of Savoy.
“We’re getting closer,” Urban Services Director David Schnelle said of the construction project. “We’re on target for an April letting.”
Construction then would start in the spring and be completed in one construction season.
This section involves reconstruction of the roadway, storm sewer, sidewalk, shared-use path and curb and gutter work from Crestview to Winter avenues.
The project is estimated at around $2.5 million.
Authorizing a budget amendment in the housing loan fund budget for a Vermilion County Community Development Corp. loan assisting Townway Place, LLC with repairs to housing units.
Also, a water line break caused damage at the city’s property at 2504 E. Main St. and the need to borrow funds from the housing loan fund is needed so the property can be repaired and ready for a prospective buyer.
Repairs are estimated at $6,688 and the cost of the furnace was $1,000. The entire loan of $7,688 will be repaid as soon as funds are received from the sale of the property.