July 8, 2013 Morrison City Council met at the county board room. Blean and Sullivan were excused. Wood, Connelly, Zuidema, Eizenga, Helms, and Bender were present. Mayor Pannier, Clerk Schroeder, Public Works Tresenriter, Chief Melton, Engineer Charmichael, Attorney Zollinger and Treasurer Haag were in attendance. It was an informative, positive meeting.
There were several statements made prior to the vote on Sunday liquor sales. Stephanie Vavra, representing the Board of Directors of the Chamber of Commerce, stated it was time for a change in Morrison. They want taverns and other businesses to be open on Sundays if they like.
Stephanie Vavra also stated that Morrison had a slogan- “The City of Friendly Enterprise”. She noted the time frame of noon to 10 pm on Sundays, limits enterprise. The Whiteside County board requests that the city council entertain allowing taverns in Morrison to be open from 6 am to 1 am like the county.
Mayor Pannier read a note from Nancy Gravert stating she had safety concerns and asked not to adopt Sunday liquor sales.
After discussion, the Council voted to allow the taverns in town Sunday liquor sales between noon and 10 pm. Several months ago it was brought up for a vote and the old council decided to allow it, but it was brought before the new council and Mayor and decided it was in the best interest of the city to allow these four businesses the option to be open on Sundays without an increase of their liquor licenses which were raised about a year ago (with the taverns fees raised more than any of the other businesses that require liquor licensing).
Mayor Pannier gave updates on projects around town. 1) Meadowbrook and Tech Drive are moving forward. 2) 80% of the Rockwood Trail has been engineered to submit to IDNR. 3) Market Street Parking Lot design process is almost finished. Both projects should go to bid the first of August. 4) Mayor Pannier has met with owners of properties that could possibly be purchased for the Waste Water Treatment Plant and is waiting for a response. 5) The Budget 101 meeting for the aldermen was good and some changes will be made in the line items of the budget for clarification. 6) Starting Aug 1, the Water Tower will begin sandblasting - readying it for cleaning/painting. We are looking at a change order to eliminate the lettering/logo since you can’t really see the tower in the trees. It will save the city about $10,000 by just painting it white—unlike what we were told at meetings last year when it was discussed. 7) The FEMA floodplain review is still something we have been asked to help support...the city’s portion would be $10,000. If the floodplain is changed, building can take place on areas that were restricted previously.
Other items discussed and passed were: An ordinance stating the water/sewer bills will be raised enough to repay the loan from the IEPA. Budget Line items were added in the budget for engineering and construction expenses. The city will be scrapping some unused items like old water meters, etc. and the money will be place into the respective department’s funds.
Chief Melton would like the Pool ordinance reviewed for clarification. Mayor Pannier asked him to look at ordinances from other towns in the area to see how they deal with the fencing for pools and get back to the council.
Morrison City Council will meet July 22, 2013 at 7:00 pm at the County Board Room. Be a part of your city - show up and make comments at the beginning of the meeting. Please contact your aldermen with your concerns and compliments! See you at the next meeting!
A Morrison Taxpayer,
Quinn Freezes Legislators’ Pay Over Pension Reform Impasse
By Kristina Rasmussen
Executive Vice President
Illinois Policy Institute
Gov. Pat Quinn made waves this morning by announcing the suspension of state legislators’ pay until the General Assembly passes comprehensive pension reform. Quinn is also withholding his own pay.
This move comes a day after lawmakers serving on a special pension conference committee failed to meet the governor’s July 9 deadline to resolve the differences between the various pension reform proposals on the table.
This isn’t likely to go over well with lawmakers, whose salaries are the fifth-highest in the country among state legislators.
On one hand, Quinn’s announcement is a media-friendly gimmick to position himself favorably in the ongoing pension debate.
On the other hand, it seems reasonable to expect legislators to actually to do the job they were elected and are paid to do.
According to data from the state comptroller’s state employee salary database, the average salary of a state representative in 2012, including additional leadership pay, was $72,591. The average salary of a state senator in 2012, including additional leadership pay, was $77,545.
The real question is whether the governor’s pronouncement will just create more ill will among lawmakers or if it will move officials closer to approving real reforms that would actually solve the crisis, rather than papering over the problem.
Legislators’ pensions crystallize the crisis
The General Assembly’s own pension plan is a case study of why sweeping reform is necessary.
Taxpayer contributions to the General Assembly Retirement System, or GARS, have gone up by 237% since 1998. Illinois taxpayers contributed nearly $9 million more to GARS than legislators did in 2009 alone.
And this gap is projected to widen further — between 2013 and 2045, taxpayers’ annual contributions to GARS are projected to increase by 226%, to $46.3 million.
These ballooning pension costs are exactly what the pension conference committee was charged with resolving.
A real pension reform solution
The Illinois Policy Institute has outlined a comprehensive pension reform plan that is constitutional, would immediately cut Illinois’ $100 billion unfunded pension liability by nearly half, and would protect the benefits earned to date by current government workers.
Going forward, government workers would control their retirement funds in a self-managed plan. They would be able to grow a solid retirement nest egg, and taxpayers would face no unfunded liability.
The Illinois Policy Institute’s plan, proposed as House Bill 3303 and Senate Bill 2026, solves the pension crisis. It paves the way for Illinois’ economy to flourish once again and provides the jobs that Illinoisans are eager to fill. It’s our best hope for turning this state around.
Fighting to ‘Make it in America’
By Congresswoman Cheri Bustos
17th District of Illinois
As anyone who has spent time visiting the numerous workplaces, job sites and businesses across our region of Illinois knows, our workers are the best in the world. If given the chance, they can out-compete, out-innovate and out-work anyone from every corner of the globe.
I recently had the opportunity to travel our region on a “Make it in America” tour. On these visits to area workplaces, I met with local workers and businesses to exchange ideas about ways to create jobs here at home and to boost American manufacturing.
I ran for Congress to do my part to put middle class American families first. Since taking office, I’ve made fighting for American jobs and manufacturing my top priority. I’d like to share here a few details of common sense legislation I support that focus on my pledge to you:
For too long, Washington’s priorities have been upside down and misplaced. Instead of fostering job creation here at home in Illinois, special interest groups have carved out tax loopholes for companies that ship our jobs overseas.
That’s why I proudly support the Bring Jobs Home Act of 2013, which would eliminate these ridiculous tax deductions for companies that send jobs overseas, while providing a new tax credit for companies that bring jobs back to the U.S. Instead of using the hard earned tax dollars of our citizens to create jobs and boost manufacturing in America, too many of our tax dollars are sent to workers and companies in foreign countries.
To help reverse this, I introduced the American Jobs Matter Act, a bill that would enable the government to consider the creation of American jobs when accepting bids for taxpayer-funded federal contracts. This bill would help ensure that taxpayer dollars are invested where they should be: at home in Illinois and America, not in places like China and Japan.
And instead of prioritizing our workers and our economic future by investing in workforce training programs and education, those with the wrong priorities have given lavish tax breaks to big oil companies making record profit and millionaire Wall Street bankers.
To help make job training programs more affordable and accessible, I introduced the Access to Education and Training Act after my weeklong community college tour earlier this year. My bill would allow those who receive Pell grants to take advantage of these grants year-round. Many who would benefit most are non-traditional students who want to complete their courses faster so they can get trained and back into the workforce as quickly as possible.
From the big cities to the smallest of towns, I consistently hear from the people of our region that they are concerned with making sure their children have the same opportunities they did, and that starts with having access to good-paying jobs.
I’ll continue to listen to the workers of our region and to fight day and night to ensure “Make it in America” is stamped on even more of our products and goods.
By Jim Sacia, State Representative, 89th District
177 Illinois Legislators descended on Springfield late in the afternoon of July 8, 2013 and early morning July 9, 2013, to answer the Governor’s call to deal with concealed carry and pension reform. Yes, it was special session, so legislators left whatever obligations they had back home to be responsive to the Governor.
Ironically two weeks earlier, after the Governor had notified us, Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), the chairman of the conference committee of ten legislators representing both chambers finalizing an acceptable pension bill, had publicly stated “we won’t be ready”. A reporter reminded him that the Governor had stated that they must be, to which the good Senator responded with words to the effect “and what can he possibly do about it”.
Yes, we would not see a pension bill, but you will recall that the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals had given us a mandate in early December 2012 (ironically shortly before the Newtown massacre) that Illinois will have a concealed carry bill, like the forty nine other states by July 9, 2013.
The stage was set. The House and Senate had previously passed House Bill 183 Concealed Carry with super majorities plus, but for two weeks prior to July 9, the Governor chastised the General Assembly for allowing more guns on the street. He used his amendatory powers and vetoed our bill with thirteen points of how it should be, playing to his Chicago liberal base. His points were, in my opinion, ludicrous. He is the Governor; he does have a base, so be it.
Representative Lou Lang was in “the chair”. House Bill 183 was illuminated on the electronic board and my good friend, Brandon Phelps (D-Harrisburg) the bill’s author, moved to override the Governor’s veto. Lengthy debate was anticipated. There was none. Representative Lang called for the vote, 77 of us voted yes, just 71 were needed for a super majority. That’s just twelve less than the original vote. The Governor was soundly defeated.
The override motion headed to the Senate. We certainly expected passage but rumor had it there would be a “trailer bill” watering down HB 183.
The Senate overwhelmingly overrode the Governor as we did, but also passed HB1453 which modified three of the provisions of HB183. Here it comes - two of the three provisions I actually like. One provision stated that during a traffic stop you must immediately notify the officer you are carrying. The second provision stated mental health reporting shall go directly to the State Police. The third provision was from Senate President Cullerton who is usually a pretty thoughtful guy. I’m thinking he is appeasing the Governor. It stated a public building does not need a “no guns allowed” sign - it’s up to the person carrying to figure it out. It doesn’t matter, we soundly defeated it. Illinois is last of all fifty states but HB183 is a good bill which will make a good law.