Council Discusses Progress on Infrastructure Projects


Published on April 1 2014 8:47 pm
Last Updated on April 1 2014 8:47 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

Effingham City Council members Tuesday discussed progress on a number of infrastructure improvement projects, and progress still to come.

The Council agreed to vote at their next meeting on an agreement with Milano and Grunloh Engineers of Effingham for plans and specifications on drainage improvements and milling and resurfacing of the Collins Subdivision streets, including Holly Drive, Collins Drive, North Martin Street, North Wenthe Drive, Diana Court and Jenner Avenue.  The design work will cost an estimated $40,000.

Commissioner Don Althoff voiced concerns over the work, saying the City has done work there before.  Some residents of the subdivision present for the meeting disagreed, saying they've been waiting a long time to see improvements such as those being proposed.

Althoff also objected to some of the provisions of a project to extend Thies Avenue next to John Boos and Company's new location along South US 45.  His concern was the inclusion of water and sewer lines, which he says might have been financed by a grant.  Althoff said the company didn't join in the request for grant funds and said he doesn't think it's fair that local taxpayers will now pay for the water and sewer line work.  The design work for the street extension is expected to cost $30,000 and will be voted on at the next Council meeting.

The Council also agreed to vote next meeting on an agreement with Milano and Grunloh for design of plans for construction of Blohm Avenue from Veterans Drive into Woodland Heights Subdivision.  The project has been undertaken in small bites over several years, but City Engineer Jeremy Heuerman told Commissioner Alan Harris that the street surface will be built this year.  The design work is expected to cost up to $20,000.

City Administrator Jim Arndt also discussed establishing a five-year capital improvements plan for Fiscal Years 2015-2019, with consideration given to an orderly flow for projects rather than "frontloading" projects in the first two years of the plan.

Arndt also reviewed the proposed fiscal year budget totaling just more than $71 million.  He said the measure is balanced and calls for 10% less in income and in expenditures.  A vote on the measure, which takes effect with the new fiscal year beginning May 1, should come at the next Council meeting.

The Council heard from local businessman Jim Hecht on plans to develop a new home for the NAPA Auto Parts store on South Banker Street near Nuxoll Food Center, rather than the current location on East Fayette Avenue.  The City is considering providing up to $60,000 for site preparation work on the project.

Council members voted for a group health insurance plan that is a fully insured traditional plan rather than the self-insured plan employed by the City the past several years.  Also included is an additional Health Savings Account plan.  The Council also approved 2% pay raises for non-union City employees, and retained a wellness program for the coming fiscal year.

The Council approved a series of appointments to various City committees.  Here's the rundown: Board of Trustees of the Police Pension Fund--Marlene Brandt for two more years...Board of Trustees of the Fire Pension Fund--Marlene Brandt replacing City Clerk Kelsey Lock for three years...Human Relations Board--Bruce Devall, Todd Hull and Greg Sapp for three more yearas...Ethics Commission--Sharon Harris for two more years.  Arndt encourages any City residents interested in serving on a City committee to contact him at City Hall at 342-5308.

Council members approved a $10,000 contribution to the 4th of July fireworks display and agreed to a dollar-for-dollar match up to another $5,000 for the display, which is being organized by Effingham Firefighters Association.  The Council also endorsed the Friends of St. Anthony's Memorial Hospital for joining the Pick It Up, Effingham litter abatement program.  The Friends will maintain the area around the Fayette Avenue underpass.

Commissioner Brian Milleville shared information on efforts to establish a Skilled Trades course in the local schools.  Arndt asked for Council participation on a Public Facilities Task Force to be prepared for the time when improvements are needed.