New Water Meters, User Fees

By MICHAEL MILLER | For The Prairie Advocate News
SAVANNA ¨C The Savanna City Council held an informative debate on the effects of the impending water meter replacement project on the City and the citizens therein, at the latest meeting of that body on August 13th, 2013 at 333 Chicago Avenue in Savanna.
Attending the meeting were Mayor Tony McCombie, along with Council members Bill Robinson, Peg Haffey, Ray Skiles, Jeff Griswold, Christine Lee, Lisa Robinson and Gary Scott Law, with Merle Long absent. Also attending were department heads Michael Moon, Shawn Picolotti, Sheryl Sipe and John Lindeman, as well as City Clerk Paul Hartman and City Attorney Phil Jensen.
Haffey¡¯s Hotel/Motel report included the news that McCombie addressed the Committee, representing the Chamber of Commerce, and reported that a new business, the Savanna Market Place, will soon be occupying the old Cafe Blue building. Details were still a bit sketchy, but apparently this business will be a retail craft business.
Mr. Robinson¡¯s Finance Committee report included a fairly lengthy update from the Mayor on her investigations into saving money on the City¡¯s Centurylink program. She said the City¡¯s current bill from the company runs between a low of $850.00 per month to a high of $997.00 per month. If the City goes with a ¡®bundle¡¯ program, the Mayor said, the bill should be about $198.00 plus tax per month, obviously a significant difference. She presented different plans and said that while there isn¡¯t money in the budget currently for a new phone system, the bundle package should be able to save enough money to allow them to go with a new one and afford it. The Finance Committee recommended the new bundling program and also purchase a new phone system.
Griswold questioned whether or not it was necessary to include a maintenance agreement on both the PVX systems and the phones themselves. He also inquired about several other technical matters, many of which would apparently need to be answered in an upcoming conference call with the company itself. This call will include Griswold, McCombie and Centurylink representatives. For her part, McCombie said she was excited about the potential to save a great deal of money for the City on its monthly bills.
Ultimately, the Council agreed to allow McCombie to bundle its current program with Centurylink, and to verify exactly what the City is getting from its phone system purchase after the phone conference.
Request for funds followed, including one from the Fire Department to send five new fire fighters to Firefighter 2 Class, at a cost of $650.00 (fully approved), and also from from Public Works for a compactor and control for the Transfer Station, at an estimated cost of $39,900.00 (also approved).
The second drawdown on payment for the sewer plant project for grant administration services was also approved, in the amount of $5,500.00 was likewise unanimously approved by Council.
Meter replacement
Superintendent of Public Works Lindeman spoke briefly on the Notice of Intent to Award the bid for the 2013 Water Meter Replacement Project, announcing that only one bid had been received, from Ferguson Waterworks, at $710,000.00, approximately, and that this bid was a bit higher than what the City¡¯s cost projections had been. However, the superintendent added that in further discussions with the company, one portion of the work contract could be deleted and that the move could easily move the total price to something more within the scope of the City¡¯s original concept price, cutting it down to approximately $438,000.00.
Lindeman noted, in response to a question from Griswold, that the portion of work eliminated was not a critical one and shouldn¡¯t affect the project in any significant way.
He also added in response to a question from Mrs. Robinson, that the project should begin around early October of this year and end around April of 2014.
With the new meters, Lindeman said, residents should begin actually paying for what they use, and Lee expressed concern that this is certainly going to result in increased bills for many residents, in addition to complaints. Lee wondered if it wouldn¡¯t be a good idea to get in front of this eventuality and inform the residents that this was a distinct possibility. Lindeman said that handouts were planned to address this situation and keep residents informed. He added that larger users such as schools and factories were where it was assumed the largest gains in lost water would be seen, and where the accuracy of the readings would be of most benefit to the City.
Lindeman also said that once the whole process had begun, they would look at what they were gaining from the new system for perhaps a year before any rate increases would be instituted. Griswold also asked how reliable the circuit boards on the units would be, and Lindeman said that the units are battery operated and that even the old units need maintenance from time to time. The superintendent reported these units are warranted for 10 years at 100 percent, and the next ten years are pro rated. Lindeman said that if someone questions whether their particular unit is accurate, the City will test the unit and pay for the test if it is found to be faulty. However, if it is not found to be faulty, the resident will be responsible for the cost of the test.
Exiting the Meadows
Jensen updated the Council on the ongoing negotiations with the Meadows development group, announcing that in response to a request from the City that they be allowed to pick the lots they would be entitled to should those lots be unsold by the group, the Meadows folk had strongly objected to that idea.
He also noted that the group is in ¡°serious negotiations¡± for sale of the entire lot and that the current agreement is in accordance with the Council¡¯s plan. After a motion by Robinson, the Council approved this agreement with the group.
Jensen also said the City received a ¡°far better¡± easement agreement with Jo Carroll Energy regarding their desire to place a cathodic protection device on their current place of business within the City; however, he still felt this agreement was not acceptable. Further adjustments to the agreement are apparently in the offing and Council will vote on that revised agreement in the future.
Ordinances and More
As is the increasing norm, a flurry of ordinances were on the Council¡¯s plate, with no fewer than five being considered in their first readings by Council. Ordinance #2053, regarding the rules and regulations pertaining to the City¡¯s reimbursement program for demolition of buildings, was read and placed on first reading.
Ordinance #2054, involving definitions of various structures and individuals per city codes, was read, the second reading waived, and approved.
Ordinance #2055, involving the rank structure of police officers and allowing the department more flexibility, was also approved.
Ordinance #2056, involving fee scheduling for itinerant vendors and transient merchants, was placed on first reading and approved.
The final ordinance considered, #2056, will authorize the establishment of an enterprise zone within Whiteside and Carroll County, namely, a gas station/convenience store in the City of Morrison, Illinois, and this was fully approved as well.
Two resolutions were also on the agenda. The first was to allow the Fire Department to have an Intersection Solicitor¡¯s License on the 14th and 15th of September. Also approved was a resolution of support for the ITEP Grant application, which involves the City¡¯s efforts to apply for funding to support a sidewalk linking the proposed Savanna Trail Head to the Great River Trail.
The second was Resolution #1054, which authorizes the Fire Department to implement an Explorer program for the youth of Savanna, was fully approved by Council.
Final Comments
McCombie reported that the Savanna Historical Society was conducting an ongoing fund raising effort to help finance an elevator within their building, and had in fact received a grant for that purpose.
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