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Council denies special water connection fee for ministerial association assists Council: City still has no budget, sent back to committee.

Byline: Patty Zahradka correspondent

Even with the air conditioners working full blast, the hot air from the outside at times felt cooler than some of the air circulating in the Pana City Council chambers Monday night, July 22.

Water

Alderman Glenn Schneider was asked to explain a situation that he felt needed to be brought to the council regarding nonprofit organizations, specifically the Pana Ministerial Association, paying water bills for people during times of hardship.

It was noted that some of the terminology used between the water department and the general public needed clarification. If a water bill has not been paid by the 10th of the month, a disconnect list is given to the meter reader. In this case, the water had not yet been turned off but had received the notice that it was to be shut off on the 26th. The payment was delayed and even though the water had not been shut off, the church

paid a fee of $95 to reconnect.

The reasoning behind the $95 deterant fee was discussed and Supervisor Brian Blodgett stated he did not feel that his employee should be placed in a position where he was dealing with angered or pleading residents asking not to have the water stopped or giving them time to pay their bills.

The motion to charge the ministerial association $35 instead of $95, as the $60 difference could help other hardship cases, was denied on a 5 to 3 roll call vote. It was also noted that people seeking this kind of financial help need to contact the churches before they have been disconnected and that the city ordinance specifies $95 and this is the law that must be followed.

Benton & Associates representative Ben Spreen presented a short version of the urgency of making a decision granting them permission to apply for a boat ramp access grant (BADD Grant) which is due in mid-August at a cost to the city of $3,500, for a possible $200,000 grant. Only $725,000 was to be offered to the entire state, which makes attaining a grant slim for any one particular governmental body. The application can be updated and used again next year if the grant is offered.

Next, Spreen informed the council of the need to house the activated carbon which is introduced into the water treatment system twice per day. The material is highly abrasive and has been clogging water lines and wearing out $30,000 pumps every four years. Considering that the proposed new building may cost up to $900,000, after much discussion, Mayor Kroski explained that a pump should be replaced every 15 years so the building would actually pay for itself in 12 years and because of the health and safety risks to the employees, and as this carbon is highly explosive, he felt it was a good investment.

The motion to approve the BADD grant application and design of the building with Spreen returning to update the council in a week or two, passed on a voice vote 8 to 0.

City budget

Administration Chairman Tim Eddy presented the city's budget for 2020 which reflected a lower income and higher expenses -- a fact that instantly became a reality when seen in red ink -- a deficit of more than $200,000. Alderman Steve Scott brought up the idea of increasing telecommunication, licensing, and fees.

Several small conversations were seen being verbalized but not loud enough to be heard or understood, so Mayor Kroski asked if a motion to accept had been made. With no motion made on passing the budget, Alderman Scott made the motion to send the budget back to committee for re-evaluation. A roll call vote was tied 4 to 4 with Mayor Kroski voting to break the tie and sending the budget back to the committee.

Washington School flooding

Engineer Greg Holthaus and Alderman Ron Miles updated the council on the water flooding problem which has become worse after the Pana School District applied for and received a permit to reroute their bus routes around Washington School. It is noted that a barrier or mat has been laid behind the school and covered with rock making the area behind the school for parking. Because the school sits at the top of the hill, the heavier rainfalls are not being absorbed into the ground, but running over the curbs, crossing the street, flooding garages, basements, and yards on Grant Street. This has been a problem for several years, but now needs a solution. Attorney Steve Mahrt was directed to write a letter to the school board explaining the newest situation and asking for financial assistance in rectifying the problem. Holthaus voiced that he would get "some bids", however, exactly when this project will be completed is unknown at this time.

Other business

Alderwoman Tracy Braye-Strawn reported that the highly debated "Dog Ordinance" would be staying the same, but encouraged Pana residents to continue to call in and report dog violations -- running loose, threats, and attacks. Protecting the residents is a priority and avoidable in most cases. Dog owners are responsible for damages done by their animals and will be fined. Nonemergency calls can be made to the new Ordinance Officer, A.J. Wiss at 562-2741 and for emergencies always call Pana Police.

Safety Chairman Alderman Glenn Schneider recommended the appointment of Konner Kloever as an auxiliary fireman and EMS.

Randy Smith addressed the council on some needed repairs to the area in which the Taylorville Credit Union's new building will be erected. The aldermen were told that they would be contacted by Al Stupek for inspection of the site.

Mayor Kroski announced that the Halloween Parade would be on October 31 and Trick or Treat nights would be October 30 and 31 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Residents who invite Halloween participants should turn their outside porch light on. CTI of Taylorville needs only 30 more signatures to consider Pana as part of their service territory. There is no obligation to subscribe to their service if you complete their form.

Alderman Leon Goff stated that a meeting of the Economic Development Committee will be held on Tuesday, July 23 at 4:15 p.m., followed by a meeting of the Community Support Committee at 5 p.m. Lightening struck the Kitchell Park Playground lights which will need to be submitted to the city's insurance company.

Recognized was Lauren Bobarsky representing the Pana Music Booster's and asking permission to hold a 5K Run on city streets. She has already coordinated the event with Chief Bland and the council gladly gave their permission.

The next regular meeting of the city council will be at 7 p.m., Monday, August 12
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Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Date:Jul 24, 2019
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