Lanark City Council Addresses Too Much Water, and No Water Issues
By LYNNETTE FORTH | For The Prairie Advocate News
LANARK – Lanark City council members tackled several issues during the August 20th meeting. Approval of minutes from the Lanark 16th and August 6th meeting were unanimously approved. City Treasurer Michelle Barnes reported in the Finance report portion of the meeting that she had called Gronewald Insurance Company to inquire about the status of the cities refund check from previous bonds, and was told that the check would be sent out following the August 6th meeting, but no money has been seen as of yet.
The annual Treasurer’s Report for fiscal year April 1st, 2011-March 31st, 2012 was approved, following a minor correction, with publication to be sent to the Prairie Advocate.
Dan Pepin of Community Funding and Planning Services presented council members with the annual TIF report (Tax Increment Finance). Pepin reported that the report will be submitted to the State Comptroller’s office. A joint review board meeting will need to be held. Pepin stated that a public meeting, followed by a second meeting, will likely be held on September 17th, with public notification to appear in the paper.
A final pay application for the Argyle Street project has been submitted. “This will make the project eligible for the closing out of grant funds,” Pepin stated.
“Why are we closing this if it’s really not done?” questioned Alderman Mark Macomber.
Mayor Huggins responded, “We can close out the grant.”
Pepin informed the council that the grant needs to be closed out by September 31st. “If you are not comfortable with this we can hold Law [Excavating’s] check if you want until you are happy with whatever needs to be done with the flooding at Preston’s.”
Clerk Jackie Hawbecker asked, “Can we just close out the grant money but still have City funds available?”
“Yes,” Pepin answered.
Storm water issue
A report was heard from Mike Leslie of Willett Hofmann and Associates in regard to the storm water flooding problem at the Dawn and Scott Preston residence.
“We did finally get some estimates, and jetting was required the second time. We were still unable to get through on the south east corner where the water seems to be coming from. We are getting another estimate to go through the concrete by the deck to see if it’s a foundation drain,” Leslie said.
The removal and televising will cost $2,356.00 from Tony’s Plumbing in Freeport. “The city is paying for this?” Macomber questioned.
“That’s up to you guys,” Mayor Huggins replied.
Alderman Kocal added, “We have to find out where the problem is.”
“Somebody has to take responsibility to get it started,” Alderman Ed Fehlhafer replied. Alderman Anne Lindsay added, “It’s the city’s responsibility to get it done and figured out. It’s not fair to the Prestons to keep having this problem. They didn’t have it until we did the project.”
“We need to get this done,” the Mayor replied. “If it ends up not being the city’s problem, we can take legal action on whoever’s issue it is and get our money paid back.”
A bill from Prowant Construction was discussed by the council for pumping that was done at the Preston property in May at the cost to the city of $148.00. Dawn Preston, who was present at the meeting, stated that the PVC pipe that was used is still at her home, and can be returned to Prowant’s for a credit to the city, but she doesn’t have the means to get it transported.
Following much discussion, council members voted to hold payment to Law Excavating until the issue at Argyle and the Preston property is resolved. Dawn Preston asked for confirmation that her family will not have to pay for the upcoming testing at her property as she was told before. “Correct,” Alderman Kocal replied.
No water issue
Resident Chris Spathies addressed the council with an issue concerning a past due amount on his water bill, which has resulted in the water to his residence being turned off. Spathies is requesting that the city turn the water service back on, because his property was foreclosed on, and he wasn’t the owner at the time some of the bill accumulated.
City attorney Ed Mitchell reported, “This resident is three months behind on his current bill. He is moving to 123 E. Locust, and had already purchased the property back, and owned it before it got foreclosed. He bought it back. He says he wasn’t told of any pending problems with a past due bill when he bought the property back from the bank. If he were a third party buying it, it would be a different story. He still owes an old bill of $3,000.00. Do you still want to turn on the water at the new property without the bill being paid?”
Alderman Fehlhafer responded, “We can’t turn on the water until the old bill is paid.”
Council members learned from Attorney Mitchell that possession of the property was taken over by the bank on September 26, 2012, and the water was shut off on November 12th.
Spathies urged the council to turn the water back on so that he can care for his family, and informed them that he currently has to transport his daughter to his old residence just so she can have water to get ready for school. Spathies argued with Clerk Hawbecker that he should have been receiving a bill for the past due amount, and Hawbecker told Spathies that the bill had been sent out.
“I have been in this office many times to talk to you about this, why didn’t you tell me that I had such a large balance?” Spathies questioned.
“Chris, you knew you had to pay the amount,” Hawbecker added.
Council members voted unanimously that once Spathies paid the full amount of $3355.00, the water will be turned back on. Spathies was not happy with that decision, and begged council members to allow him to submit a fair offer and have the Water & Sewer Committee review the proposal. Mayor Huggins told Spathies that he should write up a formal proposal and submit it the following morning to City Treasurer Michelle Barnes, but that the council would make no promises.
(The proposal was received Wed., 8/21, and the Water & Sewer committee met at 8am Monday, 8/26).
Moving on with the meeting, Attorney Mitchell reported that the Tax Levy ordinance needs to have action taken on it. Council members voted unanimously to approve the ordinance.
Mayor Huggins addressed the council, and questioned if the City of Lanark should look into giving economic development incentives. Huggins has talked with various other communities and the County about offering incoming business owners an incentive to attract them into the area. Aldermen agreed to have the item put on the agenda for the next meeting, and discuss it further at that time.
Crop spraying complaints
In an email correspondence from Lanark Police Chief Matt Magill, he addressed complaints about crop spraying on the outskirts of the city. Magill stated “I have done some follow-up on the situation, and have spoken with people at the FAA as well as the area airport authorities who are familiar with the crop spraying operations.
“Basically, there are no flight altitude or path restrictions on the spraying operations, simply because they need to be close to the crop in order to properly place the products being sprayed. They are required to use due care and caution as much as possible, and avoid going over homes as much as possible, but if their choice, for instance, is going over homes or have to go over power lines to make spraying pass, they are allowed to go over the homes.
“Further, for the most part what is being sprayed is a Fungicide, which is nearly harmless to humans, and would have to be in great concentration (and actually have it directly sprayed on you) to be of any concern at all. The smell will naturally move with air currents, but the odor itself poses no risk. I will be getting some more information and possibly some hand-outs that I can supply to those concerned, which may be of some value.”
Council members approved the appointment of Treasurer Michelle Barnes as City Clerk Pro-tempore from August 31st through September 16, 2013.
The next meeting of the Lanark City council is scheduled for September 3rd in the City Hall. Community members are welcome.