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VG City Council swears in high school advisory members

The Villa Grove City Council met on January 11 for their regular meeting.

Mayor Eversole Gunter called the roll at 6:04 p.m., and found all members of the council, minus Alderman Pangburn present. Also in attendance were Administrator Athey, Clerk Osborne and Chief of Police Rea.

After reciting the pledge of allegiance, Mayor Eversole Gunter called for a motion to approve the consent agenda which consisted of

* Minutes of the last regular city council meeting, held on December 14, 2020.

* Closed minutes of the last regular city council meeting, held on December 14, 2020.

* Minutes of the last Committee of the whole meeting, held on December 28, 2020.

* Closed minutes of the last Committee of the whole meeting, held on December 28, 2020.

* Authorization for the payment of bills in the amount of $322,455.00.

* Financial Statements for the month ending November 30, 2020.

* Financial Statements for the month ending December 31, 2020.

* Approve the purchase of an 8-inch knife valve for $1700.00

* Approve the hiring of a full-time police officer.

At this point, Mayor Eversole Gunter called for public comments, and Joe Landeck was on hand to discuss several issues. First, Mr. Landeck expressed the opinion that the city should be focusing funds on repairs to the water and sewer plant rather than on a new community building.  “As much as I’d love to see a community building, I feel that the sewer issue should take precedence,” Landeck stated.  Eversole Gunter then countered by stating that the revenue streams for the Community building and the water and sewer issues were completely separate.  The mayor then stated that the city is aware of the issue of rising costs and that all possible solutions, including the sale of the utility are under consideration.  “We’re facing 15 to 20 million dollars in repairs over the next 8 to 10 years, “ Eversole Gunter stated, “and that cost would be spread over the approximately 1100 customers we have in the city.  She went on to point out that the city’s sewer and water costs were already higher than Illinois American or Aqua, the two most likely buyers if the utility was to be put up for sale.

The mayor then touched on the fact that the city has received a $2.1 million dollar grant to underwrite construction for the community center, and that talks were coming to a conclusion regarding a major corporate donation toward construction.  “This will be a huge asset, not only for the community, but for the entire region,” Eversole Gunter stated.  “The Douglas County Health department has already had preliminary discussions about offering different types of programming at our facility.  It will have a walking track,  as well as basketball and volleyball courts so that the city can host tournaments, bringing visitors to our community, where they will buy gas, buy food and spend time.”  Alderman Garrett then added that the structure could serve as a lure for young families looking to relocate.   Mr. Landeck finished by continuing a discussion of the city being able to put tennis courts in at Richman Park, and finally he stated that he hoped that information about the grant would be published in the paper, as he hadn’t been fully aware of it.  

The council then moved to the next item on the agenda, the swearing in of advisory members Lydia and Alexa Howard.

Mayor Eversole Gunter then called for COTW reports, and finding none, moved on to Administrator Athey’s report.

* Athey reported that according to the architect, geothermal heating and cooling for the new community building should be considered, as it would pay for itself quickly. 

* She also noted that the SAGE software upgrades needed for conducting city business were free, but that the city would have to pay a SAGE technician to install them.  

* She noted that the NIU team would be sending guidelines to begin to initiate the actions plans as laid out in their reporting from last summer’s meetings. 

* She then noted that a TIF fund request had been filed, and that she would have further information about it at the next council meeting.

* She has recently received a risk management newsletter that discussed training opportunities for city employees.

* The due date for CARES act numbers had been deferred to February, but it was her intention to have them completed by January 31, the original due date. 

* She noted that a timeline for utilities action would be made available.

* Finally, she stated that the auditors would like for someone to sign off on journal entries regarding city spending as one more security feature.

Finding no other reports, Mayor Eversole Gunter then moved to new business which included:

* Notice of intent to award for water projects including: Scrubber modifications, WTP demolition and McCoy Subdivision water mains 

* Accepted the resignation of Public Works Director Scott Arbuckle.

* Approve the hiring of Scott Arbuckle as part-time certified water operator.

* Approved the SAGE software upgrade.

* Approved the hiring of a new Public Service director from internal candidates.

* Approved the promotion of Connor Block from  seasonal employee to full time status.

All six items were passed unanimously.

Finally, the city went into executive session at 6:51 pm to discuss personnel and property issues, and emerged from closed session at 7:49.  Finding no other business, Alderman Blaney motioned to adjourn at 6:52 p.m. and the motion passed unanimously.

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