DANVILLE – An announcement on a new city engineer was postponed during Tuesday's Danville City Council meeting, along with a city code amendment pertaining to liquor licenses and video gaming revenue.

Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. said the city council meeting later this month should see the city engineer announcement. Also he said he hopes to name a Ward 1 alderman within the next month to fill the vacancy created when he became mayor.

“So that is still pending,” Williams said about Ward 1.

Council members also heard Tuesday from Comptroller Shelley Scott that budget and tax levy discussions will start internally with city staff next week. They will work on the tax levy and budget concurrently again this year, she said. A first draft of the budget and tax levy is expected to be brought to the city council on Oct. 1.

In a budget and tax levy memo to city officials, Scott stated, “Again this budget year, the expectation is for a modestly improved outlook to city revenues. The state of Illinois approved the SFY 2020 budget on June 2, 2019; the ‘one time’ reduction in the Local Government Distributive Fund remained at 5 percent as it was in SFY 2019. However, the FY 19 State Use Tax receipts were positively impacted by the U.S. Supreme Court decision in South Dakota v. Wayfair, a trend that will likely continue with the growth in online purchasing. The increased percentage of Motor Fuel Tax that will be distributed to the municipalities may potentially be offset by anticipated declines in fuel consumption. Any increases in MFT will be from the new Transportation Renewal Fund and may be seen at the municipal level as soon as Sept. 2019. Also, the higher than expected Personal Property Replacement Tax revenues in FY19 are not likely to recur in 2020.”

She says although a modest increase in gross revenue is anticipated, city departments still need to control costs and expenditures to offset higher personnel costs due to salary increases and projected health insurances costs.

“The unfunded portion of the police and fire pension liability remains a concern. On July 22, 2019, Moody’s Investors Service affirmed the city’s general obligation unlimited tax (GOULT) rating of Baa3 for FY18, which ended April 30, 2018 and revised the outlook from stable to negative. This revised outlook reflects Moody’s opinion regarding the ‘likelihood of further growth in the city’s pension burden’ and further reflects the decline in operating reserves reported in the FY2018 audited financial statements.

“However, the Public Safety Pension Fee continues to provide a dependable revenue source for the city to address the current pension obligation and to potentially slow the growth in unfunded liabilities. FY 2019-2020 revenue projections for the PSPF were $2.9 million and after the first quarter receipts are on track to reach this amount. We project a much improved financial position for FY19."

In other city personnel news, with traditional Danville schools starting next week and Danville Police Officer Beth Damilano leaving the Danville Police Department, School Resource Officer Josh Long is back at North Ridge Middle School and resource officers Danielle Lewallen and John McFarland will be assigned to Danville High School.

Also Tuesday, city council members:

• Approved a new four-year clerical union contract with Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 703.

The contract, which covers around 12 employees, runs retroactively from May 1, 2018 – April 30, 2022. It includes 2 percent annual salary increases.

According to Williams other contract changes include the elimination of various positions that no longer exist, the realignment of tiers and thus bumping rights, and a one-time bonus of $500 per member for those alterations.

• Approved uniform rental and ancillary services with CLEAN Uniform Co. for five years for Danville Mass Transit.

• Amended city code pertaining to the public safety pension fee, solid waste collection and storm and sanitary sewers for the fees not to be charged for vacant lots the Vermilion County Trustee acquires for delinquent tax auctions.

• Amended city code pertaining to ambulances, including eliminating duplicate city background checks on top of already-performed state checks.

• Amended city code pertaining to the enterprise zone covering Danville, Tilton, Henning and the county. City code wasn’t updated for the new enterprise zone to be effective Jan. 1, 2016, after the previous one expired.

• Authorized execution and amendment of downstate operating assistance grant agreement for Danville Mass Transit.

• Approved the Consolidated Annual Performance and Evaluation Report for program year 2018.

• Repealed an ordinance related to part-time mayor salary.

• Authorized application and acceptance of a $20,680 Illinois Department of Transportation Sustained Traffic Enforcement Program grant and amending the police budget.