The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

February 12, 2014

Council continues budget talks

Alderman questions water company purchase

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.

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