More Time for the Meadows;
Sanitary Sewer Lining and Repair Bid Awarded at Savanna
By MICHAEL MILLER | For The Prairie Advocate News
SAVANNA – The Savanna City Council voted to grant the Meadows Development Group an extension of the lease the group currently has with the City, with full details to be worked out and agreed upon, after much discussion and an address from members of that group, including Skip Schwerdtfeger, at the June 25, 2013 meeting of the Council at 333 Chicago Avenue in Savanna.
Council members Jeff Griswold, Lisa Robinson, Peg Haffey, Merle Long, Christine Lee, Gary Scott Law, and Bill Robinson were present, with Ray Skiles absent. Also present were Mayor Tony McCombie, City Clerk Paul Hartman, City Attorney Phil Jensen, and department heads Sheryl Sipe, John Lindeman, Michael Moon and Shawn Picolotti.
Committee reports opened the meeting, with Building and Public Property/Health and Safety Committee Chair Law telling the Council that the committee had moved ahead with a list of high priority properties to address this year, and will move ahead with legal action to cause these properties to comply to City requirements. This list includes 126 Fourth Street, 1137 Chicago Avenue, 1145 Chicago Avenue, and others.
608 Cooley Avenue was added to the Demolition List. No bids were received for the property at 1708 Chicago Avenue, with the City electing to place a For Sale sign on the property, speaking with neighbors about the potential sale, and failing that, marketing the property to commercial or residential purposes.
The issue of dead trees at the road leading to ShopKo was brought up, with the City deciding that those trees should be removed, the owner being consulted and advised, with further work needed as the Mayor noted some questions about the ownership of this particular property.
Health insurance up 22%
Chairman McCombie updated the Council on the latest from the Insurance Advisory Committee, reporting that insurance rates had gone up 22 percent for health insurance coverage for the City employees. She said the City’s insurance coverage will be amended from one with a zero deductible to one with a $250-$300 deductible, and premiums will be going up. The City budgeted for a ten percent increase.
With the new health care legislation going into effect this coming January, it was possible to see insurance premiums going up as much as one hundred percent, the Mayor said. “We might have to get very creative come January,” she added. She said in surveying area school districts and towns, the City was far “from out of bounds” in terms of coverage dynamics.
Sanitary Sewer Bid Approved
Hoerr Construction was recommended to receive the bid for the work on the City’s sanitary sewer lining and system repair work bid by Superintendent Lindeman, as the bid clocked in at $339,545,000, or about $11,500 less than the next closest bid. Investigations into their past work revealed a strong work history, with Robinson mentioning that Hanover had used them for similar work and were very impressed.
Mrs. Robinson was concerned that the references for the company didn’t seem to indicate they had done the exact work the City required, unlike some of the other firms. But Mr. Robinson said that was why he contacted Hanover Mayor Don Schaible about this issue, and the feedback from him was very positive. The Council then voted on the matter and unanimously approved Hoerr for the bid. Lindeman said if everything goes well, this work should begin around late July/early August.
Meadows Agreement Extended
A long and detailed address from Meadows member Skip Schwerdtfeger followed, as he asked on behalf of the other assembled members for more time to sell the properties at the Meadows and an extension of the City’s agreement with the group. The City has invested about $250,000 and Portland LLC has invested about $300,000 in this project and properties.
Though the property was offered at $170,000 no bids were received. He added that the Meadows would like to propose an extension to the current agreement, which would extend it out ten years, with the beginning of the time limit to start when the Thomson Correctional Center begins staffing that facility, reasoning that at that point an influx of workers into the area will almost certainly result in people buying the properties at the Meadows. He said that he and his group felt that once that starts, the Meadows project will complete itself within 18 to 24 months.
“We thought it was a good idea then, we think it’s a good idea now. If we proved to be stupid in any respect, and we did, that was in betting that the State of Illinois would act intelligently. And we lost that bet. All of us.”
Schwerdtfeger added he felt the group would be willing to negotiate the start time of the agreement, and Long mentioned making the deal possibly five years instead of ten, as he was concerned about potentially asking the taxpayers to “bend a little bit” in order to facilitate the new agreement.
Jensen explained the “non recourse” loan that the group has at the National Bank, meaning that there were no personal guarantees given, “so they they literally could have walked away at any time without taking a penny out of their pockets. That does say something about their good will and character that they have continued to service this when they could have walked away.”
Mrs. Robinson made the motion to extend the contract ten years, but within a defined start time. The motion was voted upon, and unanimously agreed upon by Council. Exact details will come with the written agreement and will be voted upon at a future Council meeting.
Council acted to approve an ordinance that would effectively add a skilled care unit to the nursing home in Morrison, Illinois by extending the relevant enterprise zone.
Savanna City Council meetings are held on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month, at 7:30 at 333 Chicago Avenue, and are open to the public.