LANARK – Lanark City Council appointed a new City Treasurer to replace Michelle Barnes at the January 7th meeting.
Alderman Anne Lindsay informed the council that four applications had been received, and three were chosen for interviews. Lindsay stated that the personnel committee members felt strongly that the new Treasurer should have set hours that they would be working at City Hall.
Michelle Barnes suggested having the new employee be present for some time with Jackie, and also some days that no one is present.
Mayor John Huggins responded, “Beginning the next fiscal year, I will be having regular business hours. If we could split the hours up with the Treasurer, we could have almost all of the hours covered.”
Alderman Mark Macomber asked Lindsay, “Was availability discussed during interviews?” Lindsay stated, “Yes. We are looking at it as having to have two signatures on checks. It would be good if the new person and Jackie were both here at the same times.”
Mayor Huggins asked, “Are we having another personnel meeting, or are you ready to make a recommendation?”
Alderman Lindsay stated “Carol Kruzek based on knowledge, availability, her awareness of what the city is doing, as she has been to meetings, and she is involved with the library. That’s the recommendation.”
Mayor Huggins then appointed Carol Krusek as Treasurer based on the Personnel committee’s recommendation. Council members agreed unanimously.
In other business, Aldermen approved the Finance Report from December 17, 2013 through January 7th, 2014, with Ed Fehlhafer questioning a bill, and Clerk Hawbecker advising that the bill was for furnace filters. Fehlhafer also questioned a bill from the Maintenance Department, and was told by Barnes that it was for a hydraulic pump that was not putting out the proper amount of pressure.
Barnes asked the Mayor if the Heritage Center is required to pay utility bills at the facility, and Huggins and Anne Lindsay both replied “Yes.”
Aldermen approved both the Finance report, as well as the Treasurer’s report.
TIF or general fund for demolition?
A lengthy discussion was held over approving an ordinance to allocate TIF funds (Tax Increment Finance) for the demolition of the property on Broad Street.
“If we are going to use TIF funds, we are going to have to do it now,” Mayor Huggins stated. Lindsay noted that she had recently given an application for TIF money to John Nelson.
“TIF funds have a pretty wide scope,” Macomber stated. “The funds are to be used for the betterment of property,” Lindsay added.
Weston Burkholder replied, “I can’t see spending TIF money on the demolition. If we spend that money, the value is not going to increase.”
“It’s an expense to us,” Macomber replied.
Clerk Hawbecker questioned, “If you sell that property, where does that money go?” Mayor Huggins informed that the money would go into the General Fund.
“TIF money could be wiser spent,” Macomber added.
Mayor Huggins stated, “There are two big factors here: 1. Remove blight, and 2. To spur economic growth.”
Fehlhafer replied, “Development is our main goal.”
“We have $102,000.00,” Macomber said. “If we use $90,000.00 on the demolition, that doesn’t leave much”.
Mayor Huggins asked, “I am hearing that we are not going to do this ordinance. Is that correct?”
“We can’t really vote anyway with the absence of (Aldermen) Tom Kocal and Ken Weaver. It is not even worth voting on according to what I am hearing,” replied Mayor Huggins. The ordinance died due to lack of a motion.
Other blighted buildings
City Attorney Ed Mitchell reported on the progress being made on blighted buildings within the community. In regard to the Gilbert property, Mitchell advised that no interest has been shown by anyone wanting to take over the property. Mitchell has sent letters out to local realtors, with no positive responses.
“Nothing seems to be happening. Mrs. Gilbert has no interest. Eventually someone will end up owning it because of taxes, but you are looking at a couple years. Does the council want to move forth with a nuisance ordinance? Do you want to see if the owner would agree to make the property a donation to the City? Do you want me to approach her and see if she would just turn the deed over to us?”
Council members agreed to have Mitchell pursue the options..
Council members heard from Steve Haring, representing MSA Professional Services. Through ongoing meetings with retiring Public Works Director Les Guenzler, valuable information is being gathered to assist in making the transition for the new director a smooth one. MSA is working to make sure the right information is gathered from Guenzler, especially useful data for utility maps. The council was assured that everything will be in order in time for Guenzler’s retirement date in February.
Mayor Huggins questioned Haring on the engineering cost for the sewer replacement project on Blair Parkway. Council members would like to see construction estimate costs, since two designs had been presented. MSA will look into the matter, and provide further information.
Clerk Hawbecker advised that Les was absent for the meeting, due to a water main break. Mayor Huggins reported that Police Chief Magill is looking into a new security system for the City Hall building.
Attorney Mitchell reported to the council that he has been getting letters from a Federal Court in Los Angeles regarding a class action law suit in regards to a plastic manufacturing company that made underground pipe.
“The letters state that the court is sending notices to potential claimants. At some point, Lanark may have gotten parts from this company. I have no idea how much pipe we purchased. I think we at least need to file a claim. Does someone want to speak to Les and see if he knows of any purchases?”
“The pipe could have been bought through a contractor or even a sub-contractor,” Macomber responded.
Attorney Mitchell replied, “Somewhere we are on a list of claimants. It could be a little windfall for the City.”
Huggins replied, “Just watch for a claim form, but if we have to prove anything, forget it.”
Mitchell also briefly addressed the issue of utility company franchises, with the cable company expiring before too long, “Just for your information,” Mitchell stated.
In the Mayor’s report, Huggins advised that on Thursday, January 9th, at 6:00 p.m., the steering committee for the MAPPING program (see related article in this issue) will be meeting, and is open to the public.
Huggins encouraged the council to be thinking about the purchase of a tree to be planted next to City Hall in the Spring. Also, the Mayor announced that a retirement party for Les Guenzler will be held on February 21st from 2-4 at the Heritage Center.
With no other business, the meeting was adjourned, with the next council meeting set for January 21st at 7:30 in City Hall.