The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

March 19, 2014

City council votes to put budget on display

Aldermen, public have concerns

DANVILLE – City council members on Tuesday night approved putting the city’s proposed $43.97 million budget on display for two weeks prior to final action.

This is despite some residents saying city officials should still look at more serious cuts and that the city is driving people out with more fees, such as the proposed Emergency Medical Services response fee.

Resident Ed Strahl asked city officials how they are going to collect the EMS response fee from poor people? He said the city would be lucky to collect from half of them.

Former alderwoman Nancy O’Kane, who has a firefighter son, suggested the aldermen again look at the fire safety fee on garbage and sewer bills. However, she proposes a lower monthly fee of $5 per household and a $30 cap.

City officials previously discussed an $8 per month flat fire safety fee or a $6.50 fee as a base that would increase $3 more for every 5,000 square feet of roof top with a $35 cap.

The fee was to help offset an $800,000 city budget deficit and assist with fire department costs.

O’Kane also suggested the city get some help in outsourcing the billing to maximize the collection rate.

“This is a system set up to fail,” she said of the expected 70 percent collection rate.

Ward 2 Alderman Frank Hoskins asked if the fire safety fee came back, are mobile homes included and would each roof top a landlord own be charged separately?

Mayor Scott Eisenhauer responded “yes” to both.

Ward 4 Alderman Mike O’Kane — husband of Nancy O’Kane — said he doesn’t support the budget with any elimination to firefighters.

There is one vacancy in the fire division and city officials have no intention to refill the position.

Eisenhauer also previously said they would review every position which might become vacated during the fiscal year, such as with retirements, as to whether or not it should be replaced. In addition, the clerical position in the fire division is slated for elimination. But Eisenhauer said the employee will not lose her job. She will be moved to another opening.

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