VG City Council presented with different utility options

The Villa Grove city council convened for its regular meeting on July 13, 2020 at 6 p.m., with all council members, Mayor Eversole-Gunter, Administrator Athey and Clerk Osborne in attendance.

After the Pledge of Allegiance, the council heard from Gerald Hartman regarding the preliminary findings on his study of the community’s utility systems. Hartman, with over 45 years of experience in the field, is recognized as one of the foremost authorities on public utilities operation in the US.

Prior to giving his report, Hartman visually inspected the existing facilities, as well as consulted with Public Works director Scott Arbuckle on current conditions.  He noted that while the walls of the waste treatment plant were substantial and in good shape, the plant is old and uses outdated technology to treat the waste that it processes.  He also noted that the plant will not meet future regulations for treatment and will need significant upgrades.  Hartman said that the facility would need to upgrade its nitrogen control capabilities and also upgrade fermentation ability for the removal of phosphorus from the waste.  One potential option is by installing a Bardenpho system of anaerobic biological nutrient treatment.  He also discussed two options for updating the current structure, including a chemical feed system which would include recycling many of the existing structures and replacing with new, updated bubble diffusers. He estimated the cost of this upgrade to be around $1.5 million dollars, which would result in a net increase in sewer bills of approximately 10 percent.  Another option he explained was the Modified Ludzack-Ettinger system of waste treatment, where an anoxic zone would be added upstream of the existing aerobic sludge treatment process. The MLE system would cost approximately $4 million, resulting in a net increase in sewer bills of approximately 20 percent.  Finally, Hartman discussed his findings regarding Villa Grove’s rates in comparison to other area rates, with Villa Grove residents paying approximately $6.62 more per 10000 gallons than Illinois American customers.   Hartman ended by noting that the final results of his study would be made available to the council prior to their next meeting. 

The council then voted to approve the consent agenda which included: 

* Minutes of the June 8 regular meeting.

* Closed minutes of the June 8 regular meeting

* Minutes of the June 15 special meeting.

* Closed minutes of the June 15 special meeting.

* Minutes of the June 22 Committee of the Whole meeting.

* Closed minutes of the June 22 Committee of the Whole meeting.

* Payment of bills in the amount of $200,956.99.

* Financial statements for the month ending May 31, 2020.

* Cash Balance report for the month ending June 30, 2020.

Next, the council heard from City Engineer Andy Kieser on a number of topics.  Kieser updated the council on the chlorine leak that had occurred at the water plant and noted that the wall between the treatment plant and the office would be fortified to ensure that no leaks would pass between the two spaces.  He then noted that the McCoy water main project, along with the demolition of the old water plant, were fully permitted and were just waiting for IEPA approval to begin.  He commented that Cross Construction had completed the forced main project at the Sycamore street bridge, and that the bridge construction would be able to proceed unimpeded from this point forward, weather permitting. Finally, under questioning from Alderman Johnson, Kieser noted that the scrubbers that were installed were unable to handle the volume of Hydrogen Sulfide that was being produced, and that the amount of H2S being produced was more than two different studies had predicted.  He noted that the steps taken to address the issue, including introducing new media to the scrubber, adjusting the system’s fans and other tweaks had not worked, and that an intermediate treatment process would have to be added. 

Finding no public comments, the city then moved on to other issues.  

Administrator Athey then reported that the audit went well, with only some questions about the city’s pension obligation being raised.

Chief of Police Rae then gave a brief summation of his first weeks on the job, stating that he was focused on upgrading equipment and updating the policies and procedures manuals, and that he felt very welcomed by the community in the short time that he had been on the job.

Public works director Arbuckle then noted that the sidewalk replacement project, put on hold by the pandemic would be completed for a cost of around $700-800 dollars.  

Next, Mayor Eversole Gunter then deferred her report to city attorney Mark Miller, who addressed possible responses to the question of Wind Farms encroaching near the city, with no action being taken at this time.  

The council then moved on to new business which included:

* Approval of ordinance 2020-MC08, which authorized the Mayor to execute the employment Agreement by the city of Villa Grove for the position of police chief

* Approval of ordinance 2020-MC09, which amended section 53.01 of Title V, Chapter 53 of the municipal code of the city of Villa Grove regarding sewer usage rates.  The rates would increase six percent, from $21.162 for the first 1000 gallons to $22.470, and each additional gallon would increase from $.692 to $.730.

* Approval of the purchase of 5 new police radios 

* Approval of the sale of a lot on Wilson Street (which had twice been put out for bid with no takers

All motions were approved unanimously.

The council then moved to closed session at approximately 8:32 p.m. and emerged at 9:26 p.m.  Finding no other business, the motion to adjourn was passed unanimously.

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