Council Discusses Water Rate Increases

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Published on May 6 2014 6:42 pm
Last Updated on May 6 2014 6:42 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

Effingham City Council members Tuesday agreed to vote at their next meeting on an increase in water rates for most city residents.

The rate will increase 30 cents per 1,000 gallons used in each of the next four years.  A typical household usage of 5,000 gallons per month will mean an increase of $2.45/month the first year.  No increase is proposed in sewer rates.  The hike in water rates, if approved at the next meeting, would go into effect on bills to be paid in June.

The Council also discussed a hike in wholesale water rates, which would affect customers in Teutopolis, Lake Sara, Snake Trail and Heartville.  Teutopolis officials are moving ahead with construction of a water transmission line from Newton, but are still negotiating on wholesale purchases from Effingham.

Council members approved a development agreement with John Boos and Company.  The company is constructing a 42,000 square foot addition to their new operation on South Route 45.  The addition will mean 20 new jobs.  In exchange for the efforts by Boos, the City agreed to construct a westerly extension of Thies Avenue to serve the addition.  The City is planning to utilize state grant funds to help cover the cost of the street extension.

The Council also agreed to amend their agreement with Thomas Haarmann, who farms City-owned property in that area, since some of the land that has been farmed is part of the street extension.

Council members voted to add the position of Economic Development Specialist.  The employee will report to Economic Development Director Todd Hull, but will also work on business retention visits, tourism-related duties and a beefing up of the City's social media presence.  The position will pay $44,304 per year.

The Council voted 3-2, though, against creating the position of Assistant Fire Chief.  The person was proposed as someone who would oversee the city's fire inspection program.  Commissioners Brian Milleville, Matt Hirtzel and Don Althoff voted against the proposal, while Commissioner Alan Harris and Mayor Merv Gillenwater voted in favor.  The job would have paid $76,377 a year.  Milleville said he agrees the City needs to do something about the fire inspection program, which he said has been an "ongoing problem", but thinks hiring an assistant chief is a "little bit of overkill".  Hirtzel and Althoff asked for more information before they could support the proposal.

Council members voted to approve a 4th of July Parade.  The City Emergency Management Agency will oversee the procession, which will follow a different route, actually the same route as the Effingham High School Homecoming Parade.  The parade will travel west through downtown and make its way to Effingham High School, which will again serve as the site for the fireworks display.  The parade will step off at 5pm.

The Council also:

--accepted a proposal from Civil Design, Inc. for storm sewer replacement work on Clinton Avenue and Mulberry Street

--approved the temporary closure of some downtown streets for the Effingham Central Business District's Taste of Freedom public event on June 20

--awarded a contract for just under $89,000 to Hoelscher Concrete Construction for this year's sidewalk replacement project

--awarded a bid for close to $339,000 to Effingham Asphalt for reconstruction of Douglas Avenue from Park Street to Fifth Street, generally along the north side of South Side School

--approved Johnson Funeral Home as the latest participant in the City's "Pick It Up, Effingham" litter abatement program, with Johnson's adopting the area on Charlotte Street from Rickelman to Ford Avenues

--approved transfer of a parcel owned by the City along Washington Avenue not previously transferred to Helen Matthes Library to be transferred to the library

--agreed informally to hire a firm to continue smoking city sewers to look for lines and connections and for where problems might exist

--agreed informally to purchase a dump truck and a pickup truck through the State purchasing plan for use in city departments

--heard from Commissioner Matt Hirtzel that he'd like the issue of a public prayer at the start of Council meetings to be visited after such a practice was affirmed this week by the US Supreme Court

--heard from Commissioner Milleville that he'd like the issue of the method of letting the public speak at Council meetings revisited

--heard from Milleville and Hirtzel that the Construction Trades project involving Lake Land College, Effingham High School and local businesses is moving ahead and might be something that they feel could give Effingham a leg up on other communities