Public works building expansion approved

The Monticello city council on Monday approved financing for a $620,000 project that will expand the public works building footprint on Railroad street.

The project, which will include additions to the two buildings, will consolidate operations and allow for equipment to be stored indoors.

“It brings all the outlying buildings under one central location,” said Public Works Director Jim Grabarczyk. “There’s a lot of manpower, a lot of time lost when we’re scurrying about these four or five different locations to find a tool, to find equipment.”

Currently equipment is stored not only at the Railroad Street site, but at the city landfill, in a storage building at the police station, and even in the basement of the city swimming pool.

Alderman Joe Brown was concerned that a larger percentage of city expenditures going to salaries needs to be brought under control to ensure there are dollars to operate a public works department.

“If salaries keep going the way they are, we’ll have to end up farming this out because we won’t have the money to keep the people,” said Brown.

Brown said 46 percent of the city budget went to salaries in 2009, with that number rising to 63 percent this budget year. He noted capital improvement projects took up 34 percent of the 2009 budget, compared to just 3.4 percent this year.

Alderman Seth Melton agreed “that is an alarming trend,” but that the city still needs to focus on encouraging growth.

“The biggest currency in this town is its population – its people – and that’s what we need to focus on,” he said. “This (public works building) is something that you (City Administrator Terry Summers) said has been talked about for 12 years, and something that could increase the productivity of public works.”

And while the capital improvement budget is down this year, Alderman John Miller pointed out the city is currently taking on one of its largest of all time, a $14 million upgrade of its wastewater treatment plant.

First Mid-Illinois Bank and Trust will provide financing, which will be paid back over 10 years beginning in 2019.

Zoning approved
Several zoning and development issues were approved by the council on Monday. They included:

–a conditional use permit for Beth Seibert to operate what she called a “bed and snacks” lodging establishment at 304 N. State St.;

–a variance for Mike and Bonnie Tackitt at 716 S. Charter St. allowing them to construct an 18 by 12 foot addition to the back of their garage;

–a final plat for an expansion project at Tatman Village that will include the addition of nine duplexes, a village center and a new maintenance building;

–a plat change for Sage Meadows that will convert three zero-lot lines into two single family lots.

In other action:
–the council approved an amendment to the animal code that adds a $25 fine when cats are picked up and returned to their owner. The fee is waived for first-time offenders if the animal is spayed or neutered within 14 days; and

–the council was informed of ribbon cuttings at two new businesses: 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 11 at Catalyst Creative Studio at 818 S. Market St. and at 5:30 Thursday, Jan. 18 at Decatur Memorial Hospital’s Monticello clinic at 777 W. Bridge St.



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