City Council Votes Not to Proceed w/911 Study

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Published on September 4 2012 9:50 pm
Last Updated on July 14 2013 12:07 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

Effingham City Council members Tuesday voted against committing funds for the study of the county 911 system.

Council members said their decision came after the Effingham County Board voted against helping pay for the study.  The original proposal was for the City, the County and 911 to go thirds on the approximately $40,000 cost of the study.  The 911 Board and the County Board tabled the matter at their regular meetings in August, but then the County Board voted against chipping in at a special meeting.

City Administrator Jim Arndt recommended pulling the plug if all three parties weren't going to back the study.  A vote was made to contribute the City's share of the cost, but all five Council members then voted against the motion.

Effingham Mayor Merv Gillenwater, as did most Council members, expressed disappointment at the County Board's decision, but said that any time the other two parties wanted to move ahead with the study, the City would be ready to do its part.

The Council discussed at length whether to make its annual contribution of $150,000 to the Unit 40 School District for the cost of workforce development educational programs.  The funds have come from TIF dollars.  The payments have been made for several years in lieu of property tax revenue the school district would receive if the TIF districts were not in place, but some Council members said declining TIF revenues necessitate another look at the agreement.

The City's sales tax portion of TIF ends in 2013, which will limit the funds the City will have to pursue its own projects.

In other business, the Council purchased a tornado siren to be placed at the treated water standpipe on East Rickelman to serve the northeast part of the city...contracted with Milano and Grunloh Engineers of Effingham for preliminary engineering work on street lighting for the newer portions of Outer Belt West...purchased a vibrator roller for the City street department for street maintenance work...approved going halves with Wiedman Cleaners on brick work, window replacement and signage improvements at their location in downtown Effingham with each party paying $8,165...and repealed the city amusement tax that charged a percentage of earnings on entertainment events and implemented a tax that charges a $100 flat fee per event.

The Council agreed to refinance interest rates on debt certificates designed to save the City approximately $235,000 over the 14-year life of the certificates.  The refinancing does not extend the life of the debt.  Council members also appeared ready to move ahead with hiring Jeff Murphy to handle the redesign of the City's website and the City Tourism website for $8,500, and agreed informally to move ahead with an agreement with Economic Development Resources on an update of the City's Comprehensive Land Use Plan for $17,500.

Arndt reported that work is underway to obtain a lower interest rate for the City's Early Retirement Incentive offered in recent years, announced that a workshop will be held September 13 at 2pm to discuss collective bargaining, and shared that the City's ISO fire rating remains at a "3" on a scale of "1" being the best and "10" being the worst.

Fire Chief Joe Holomy reported that the City's paid on call firefighters worked to collect $3,600 over the Labor Day weekend to support the battle against neuromuscular diseases.