Council Votes Down Proposed Change in Liquor Ordinance


Published on June 18 2013 10:42 pm
Last Updated on July 14 2013 12:07 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

The Effingham City Council voted 3-2 Tuesday night against a proposed change in the city's liquor ordinance.

Mayor and Liquor Commissioner Merv Gillenwater proposed the change to create a license classification for convention centers.  Under the proposal, an existing restaurant license would be moved to the convention center classification.

Commissioner Matt Hirtzel suggested the wording made the classification exclusive to the existing Keller Convention Center.  The Mayor said the ordinance could be amended if another entity approached the City about a similar license, but wanted some restrictions regarding liquor.  The discussion continued for a time, the mayor called for a vote on the proposed change, and the measure was defeated.  Commissioner Alan Harris voted with the mayor on the proposed change, but Hirtzel and Commissioners Brian Milleville and Don Althoff voted against the proposal.

In other business, the Council amended the personnel policy manual to name Jeremy Heuerman as City Engineer with oversight over the engineer's and building official's offices, lightening the workload of Director of Public Works Steve Miller.  The Council also agreed to temporarily close some streets around the Effingham High School athletic complex on the 4th of July while the fireworks display is held; contracted with the Illinois Office of the Comptroller to assist in collection of past due utility bills; contracted with Economic Development Resources for $25,000 for Phase II work on the city's Comprehensive Plan; and purchased new banners for the downtown area for just over $20,000.

Council members awarded a contract for just over $200,000 for work on an unpaved portion of Blohm Avenue from Veterans Drive east into Woodland Heights Subdivision.  This work will involve culvert and storm sewer installation, dirt work and seeding.  The hope is that the street could be surfaced next fiscal year.  The Council also approved a series of water main replacement projects; and appointed Karen Rayl to fill a vacancy on the Helen Matthes Library Board.

The Council agreed to lease a strip of City easement to Russ Braunecker Cadillac Buick GMC on which to park vehicles; agreed to allocate $20,000 to the Effingham City-County Committee on Aging for senior citizen services; agreed to proceed with a storm sewer study and mapping in the area bordered by Wabash Avenue, Willow Street, Fourth Street and Market Avenue; agreed to acquire a camera for sanitary and storm sewer inspections; and agreed to pursue purchase of a vaccuum truck for the sewer and street departments.  Action on those last several items to finalize the agreements will come at the next Council meeting.

Hirtzel asked about the lack of movement on funding for the Effingham County Economic Development effort.  City Administrator Jim Arndt said they have a verbal opinion from the Illinois Department of Labor that prevailing wage would apply to any project where City funds are allocated.  Hirtzel said with that understanding, it's time to move ahead with support for the effort. 

Hirtzel also asked about whether the City planned to seek state grant monies for city projects including implementing a city bike path plan adopted several years ago.  Arndt and Gillenwater said they'd see development of a trailhead for the TREC Trail instead, but Hirtzel said the point was that there's a shot at getting money for some project and he feels it's time to move.

There were compliments for the Effingham Central Business Group for last Friday night's Salute to Freedom, and Arndt reported on a grant request for a Home Loan Bank project that would assist homeowners in the City, as well as on a citywide litter abatement effort to see whether citzens would work together to help keep the city beautiful.

Commissioners Brian Milleville and Matt Hirtzel will be at City Hall Sunday night for Commissioner Office Hours from 5-7pm.