City Council Makes Change to Liquor Ordinance, Discusses What to Do w/TIF State Sales Tax Revenue

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Published on August 7 2013 2:04 pm
Last Updated on August 8 2013 2:13 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

Effingham City Council members approved on a split vote a change in the city's liquor code.

Several weeks ago, the Council voted 3-2 to reject a proposed change that would have created a separate classification and would have moved an existing R/E Restaurant liquor license to the Convention Center classification.

Tuesday night, though, the same proposal was approved 3-2.  Commissioner Don Althoff changed his vote this week and voted for the proposal.  Mayor Merv Gillenwater and Commissioner Alan Harris again voted for the proposal, and Commissioners Matt Hirtzel and Brian Milleville again voted against the proposal.

The change is designed with the Thelma Keller Convention Center in mind.  Questions had been raised as to whether any other establishments could qualify for such a license, but supporters say other establishments don't meet the current criteria.

Also Tuesday, the Council was scheduled to consider membership in and a contribution to the Effingham County Economic Development Foundation, but the item was pulled from the agenda as paperwork is not completed.  City Administrator Jim Arndt said the item will be on the next Council agenda later this month.

Council members approved an ordinance declaring a structure at 406 West St. Anthony as dangerous and unsafe.  City officials say the structure has been vacant for multiple years and has become unsafe with raccoons moving in due to holes in the building.  The City Building Official's Office has tried to abate the problem with no response from the owner, who lives in Arizona, leading to the move last night.  The City now has the option of taking the building down and billing the owner for the expense.

The Council agreed to a contract with Lake Sara Area Water Cooperative on a wholesale water rate study with the City and the Coop splitting the $35,500 cost.  Council members also discussed how to use revenue if a state grant for transportation improvements is received.  It was agreed that funding would be earmarked for striping of bicycle lanes to connect Community, Evergreen Hollow and Hendelmeyer parks. 

Also Tuesday, Council members discussed the end of the state sales tax increment to TIF Districts across Illinois, including Effingham, as of the end of 2013.  The City has to have all of the money expended by the end of 2013.  Three avenues are being considered to utilize the funds: early retirement of TIF debt service requirements, purchase of qualifying properties, and completion of eligible capital improvement projects.  Those options could include completing any economic development obligations the City has in the original TIF District.

The Council also discussed a series of manhole lining projects and mapping of storm and sanitary sewers in the original TIF District to utilize the state sales tax funds.

Also Tuesday, the Council: purchased rescue equipment for the fire department utilizing revenue raised from putting out fires in vehicles outside the city limits along the interstates; granted permission to the Convention and Visitors Bureau to have a Corvette Welcome Fest Parade on September 19; released the bond on the US 40 sewer force main project; accepted a quote of $62,000 from R.E. Pedrotti for radio system upgrades at the waste water treatment plant; hired Milano and Grunloh to do construction engineering work on Blohm Avenue with the work completing all but the actual surfacing of the street; approved $92,000 in painting at the waste water treatment plant; annexed two lots into the city along North 3rd Street at Rickelman Avenue including the new Subway Restaurant; approved a plat of a replat of two lots in Homewood Park Addition owned by Donald and Ruth Gillespie; named Sarah Rueter to replace Janie Oldfield on the City Tourism Advisory Board; purchased a concrete saw for $21,000 to be used by the water and sewer divisions; agreed to let Washington Avenue downtown be closed temporarily on August 18 for the Legacy Run sponosored by the American Legion; purchased materials for water main replacement work along Clark Avenue, Lawrence Avenue and Third Street for about $30,000; withdrew consideration of a resolution opposing proposed changes in sprinkler system requirements by the State after the State Fire Marshal withdrew the proposal from consideration; and approved the sale of 904 West Grove Avenue for residential development for $30,000 as the water storage tank that had been on the property has been removed; and agreed to join with more than 100 other municipalities in an effort to get better rates on electricity as part of the electrical aggregation effort approved by voters last year.

The Council also further discussed "Pick it Up, Effingham", the community litter and other trash abatement program being proposed by the City.  Volunteer groups would be organized to adopt specific roadways for a two-year period.  The groups would perform cleanups at least four times each year.  The City would put up signs recognizing the groups at their work locations and would provide necessary items to help along the cleanup work.  The hope is that the program will be in place in September.