The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

July 17, 2013

City's mowing schedule to stay same

DANVILLE — Ward 1 Alderman Rickey Williams Jr.’s push to improve the city’s mowing schedule for vacant and abandoned lots didn’t win support Tuesday night.

City council members voted 10-1, with aldermen Kevin Davis, R.J. Davis and Rick Strebing absent, against a budget amendment to allocate $45,600 to increase mowing to every two to three weeks instead of the now four-to-five week schedule. Unemployment costs would have been in addition to the cost.

City officials found funding from various sources, including reducing some overtime, electricity, vehicle maintenance and other costs.

Several aldermen, including Ward 6 Alderman Steve Nichols and Ward 4 Alderwoman Sharon McMahon, said it’s late in the mowing season now, grass is growing slower and they’d support looking at next year’s budget to increase the mowing schedule.

Ward 2 Alderman Frank Hoskins also wants city officials to look at all options for mowing, such as getting more neighbors involved.

McMahon and other aldermen suggested churches and other groups and service programs to help out with the salaries and labor. Bids from landscaping businesses also could be sought.

“I think this is something we should plan on next year, upfront,” Ward 7 Alderman Steve Foster said.

Williams, who was the lone “yes” vote, tried to change aldermen’s minds by saying the cost would just be about $1.38 per citizen to mow about 400 lots.

The city was looking to hire five additional seasonal workers to start July 24 and go through Nov. 5. The workers also would’ve assisted in April, which also would be a part of the city’s 2013-2014 budget.

The cost also would have included mowing equipment costing around $9,000 and an estimated gasoline cost of $500. Salaries were the highest cost at $33,500.

“It’s a small amount of money to pay and help people out,” Williams said.

Prior to the council’s vote, Mayor Scott Eisenhauer sent aldermen a memo stating the city administration didn’t support the budget amendment.

Eisenhauer said he’d support more demolitions of dilapidated properties. With some demolitions costing around $7,000, this could result in about six more demilotions instead of using the money for mowing..

“Mowing grass is a short-term fix to an ongoing problem with absolutely no long-term gain,” Eisenhauer said in his memo. “Neighborhoods would benefit much greater by the removal of a dilapidated structure…”

He also told Williams the city doesn’t “find” money for projects.

But Williams said the city does for projects that are not needs for the city, such as the North Vermilion Street median project. Williams said he’s just trying to find a solution to a problem, and he hopes aldermen will remember this at budget time next year and “stand with the people.”

Also Tuesday night, new city treasurer Stephanie Wilson was sworn in. Wilson has been payroll administrator in the city’s finance department. Wilson is taking the place of Lisa Monson who is now city clerk. Monson took the place of Janet Myers who retired.

Wilson would fill the position until the 2015 city election. Wilson then would have to seek election.

Wilson, who was born and raised in Danville, thanked Eisenhauer and the aldermen entrusting her with the duties of city treasurer. Wilson said she’ll do her best to fill Monson’s shoes.

“I’m honored to serve the citizens,” she said.

In other business, council members:

Heard Eisenhauer give a report on the Danville Humane Society.

New board members are being sought, and options continue to be looked at.

Eisenhauer said an option for a Tilton site has no business plan.

Heard again from two insurance brokers, Jim Crose and Old National Insurance.

City officials had removed Wells Fargo, due to city confusion and also confusing some aldermen, from the top two contenders, but invited all three to speak to aldermen again next week.

City officials are looking to hire a broker to help with the Federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act because it will have an impact on health insurance provided to city employees and retirees.

One issue that came up Tuesday night was why the city didn’t have more of a wellness program to control costs and claims.

Approved purchasing nine street light poles and 15 luminaires for $33,517 from Springfield Electric Supply Co. of Danville. The price includes delivery.

Authorized a payment not to exceed $28,000 to A & R Mechanical of Danville for emergency repairs and replacements for the air conditioning portion of the mechanical systems at the city’s public works facility at 1155 E. Voorhees St.

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