Council Hears Proposal for Funds for Courthouse Renovation

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Published on April 3 2013 1:21 am
Last Updated on July 14 2013 4:07 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

Effingham City Council members Tuesday decided to take a wait and see attitude toward a request for funding to assist with the renovation of the historic Effingham County Courthouse.

The Effingham County Cultural Center and Museum Association is working to complete a conversion of the old Courthouse into a museum and venue for cultural presentations.  Association member Dave Ring asked Council members to pledge $50,000 in hotel/motel tax revenue each year for a five-year period.

Ring noted the large amount of work done through volunteer labor and private contributions to get the first floor of the Courthouse ready for museum exhibits and public presentations such as the monthly historical talks sponsored by ECCCMA and the Genealogical and Historical Soceity. 

However, Ring cautioned that as work progresses and grows in scope, the help of contractors will likely be necessary.  He also noted that the Council has pledged funding in the past if a local match could be raised and supported the Association's efforts to obtain State grant funding that was ultimately unsuccessful.

Ring said, "The Council has pledged funds in the past; we are looking to receive some of those."  He said the Association's fundraising request amounts to a little less than 6% of the hotel/motel revenue collected, and said the goal is to make the museum "a source of pride for the entire community."

Concerns, though, were voiced by some Council members regarding the need to pay prevailing wages on work where the funds were expended.  Ring asked about whether donated work by contractors would fall under prevailing wage guidelines?  City Attorney Tracy Berberich said she would research the matter.

As for the dollars sought by the Association, Berberich said those would be subject to prevailing wage guidelines.  Mayor Merv Gillenwater suggested that "$50,000 would allow you to get $15,000 in work done" and City Administrator Jim Arndt said that using the monies with other funds received could also make all of the dollars involved subject to prevailing wage guidelines.

The Council will wait on Berberich's research on donated contractor work before deciding how to proceed on the funding request.

In other business, the Council gave informal approval to the City budget for the fiscal year that begins May 1.  As proposed, there would be no increase in pay rates for non-union City employees.

The Council granted the Altamont Chamber of Commerce permission to hold the Illinois High School Rodeo Association State Finals Parade on June 12; renewed group health insurance for City workers with Health Alliance through Weis Insurance Agency for an 8.26% increase to more than $2.4 million; voted to pledge $15,000 toward the cost of this year's 4th of July fireworks display being organized by International Association of Firefighters Local #3084; and approved a letter of understanding with The Austin Peters Group for development of a comprehensive classification and compensation system for the City's non-union employees and the development of 67 job descriptions for all positions within the City.

Council members agreed to add a Class R liquor license allowing the sale of liquor for consumption on premises.  Formaggio's Pizza on South Banker is seeking the license.  The Council also awarded Herrmann's Landscaping the contract to do City mowing, and heard that bid letting is set for April 9 on the 2013 city street resurfacing program, which will take place in Park Hills and Shenandoah Subdivisions.

The meeting concluded with Commissioner Matt Hirtzel presenting Mayor Merv Gillenwater with a new gavel and base for use during meetings.  The gavel and base were provided by John Boos and Company of Effingham.  Hirtzel said he'd worried since joining the Council two years ago about the small gavel and base used by Gillenwater, and went to Boos to remedy the situation.

(EFFINGHAM MAYOR MERV GILLENWATER {right} TRIES OUT THE GAVEL PRESENTED BY CITY COMMISSIONER MATT HIRTZEL {left} AT TUESDAY NIGHT'S COUNCIL MEETING)