DANVILLE – Instead of acting on a proposal to move Community Development Block Grant funding to projects other than more East Main Street public infrastructure improvements, Danville City Council members Tuesday night only continued discussions on moving the money.
Acting Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. told aldermen he’d rather “not present something to you to be rejected.” He said aldermen can provide more input and direction in how to use the funding.
Danville Community Development Director David Schnelle said the proposal does not suggest no more public improvements would take place along East Main Street. The funds still could be used there. There may be other locations and projects identified, Schnelle said.
Moving of funds would allow more flexibility as a council to decide how to spend them, he added.
Last month, members of the city council’s Public Services Committee was split on the CDBG annual action plan amendment.
The amendment was to reduce the $259,035 that had been earmarked for East Main Street public infrastructure improvements in program year 2016 funding to $38,807.98. Of the $220,227.02 to be transferred elsewhere, $60,000 was proposed be added to the $75,000 already earmarked for economic development and $160,227.02 would go toward a new activity titled public improvements and infrastructure.
Schnelle said they have time to make the amendment. He also said the city has already made progress with East Main corridor plans through the land bank, revolving loan fund and mini parks.
Remaining plans included land assembly for private land development and landscaped medians which would have required Illinois Department of Transportation concurrence, he said.
One of the properties the city was unsuccessful in acquiring was the American Inn motel on East Main Street for a park and trail head area.
Schnelle also added the funding can’t be put back into neighborhoods with how the CDBG plan is now written.
Aldermen also heard Tuesday night from financial consultant Chris Kittell on investments for pension funds and rates of return.
Ward 6 Alderman Steve Nichols summed up aldermen's frustration with losing money and ground over the years in the percentage the police and fire pensions are funded. He said “it seems like no matter what we do we end up behind.”
Aldermen discussed another possible tax levy scenario that proposed $410,000 in city cuts and/or new revenue in addition to a 10 percent public safety pension fee increase and 4.98 percent property tax increase, down from another scenario that showed an 11.19 percent property tax increase.
In other business Tuesday, council members:
• Heard from Williams that there are a number of positions that need to be filled on boards and commissions.
• Approved an employment agreement with Danville Superintendent of Solid Waste and Vehicle Maintenance Carl Carpenter to also serve as interim Public Works Director. Carpenter's stipend is $7 per hour in addition to his salary.
Ward 2 Alderman Rick Strebing was the only “no” vote. Ward 4 Alderwoman Sharon McMahon was absent.
“Carl has been fantastic to work with,” Williams said. “He’s shown himself to be a great asset.”
Williams said Carpenter will remain interim director until the council decides what movement it’d like to make with that position.
• Approved an application for an Assistance to Firefighters Grant for equipment and training for the six new firefighters to be hired by the SAFER grant. The grant request is for $288,750 and the city’s match would be $26,250.
• Tabled action to the next full city council meeting on Nov. 20 on an amendment to Chapter 153 of city code pertaining to electricity. Ward 3 Alderwoman Sherry Pickering said she was concerned about the lack of electricians being notified and having input on the changes. Schnelle said changes included allowing the use of aluminum wire and allowing an electrician homeowner to do work at his or her own property. The city’s electrical commission is not active.
• Authorized agreements for health, dental, vision and group term and voluntary life insurance in addition to liability and worker's compensation insurance.