Savanna City Council Discusses Potential Charge for Non-Emergency Calls
By MICHAEL MILLER | For The Prairie Advocate News
SAVANNA – Due to the high volume of non-emergency calls to 911, the City of Savanna could be charged for these calls, according to officials at the latest meeting of the Savanna City Council, held on September 11th, 2012 at 333 Chicago Avenue in Savanna.
Council members present at this meeting included Bill Grummitt, Lois Hunsaker, Toni McCombie, Jeff Griswold, Peg Haffey, Merle Long, Bill Robinson and Bill Scott. Also present were Mayor Larry Stebbins, City Clerk Paul Hartman, City Attorney Phil Jensen, Comptroller/Treasurer Sheryl Sipe, Police Chief Michael Moon, Fire Chief Shawn Picolotti, and Public Works Superintendent John Lindeman.
Committee reports opened up with Contrast and Lease Committee Chairman Griswold reviewing the ongoing negotiations between the City and iFiber for installation and use of City property to house their equipment, with discussions covering such issues as electricity supply, the lease period itself, climate control and equipment and insurance coverage. Griswold said current plans are to work with Jensen to craft a first draft of a potential agreement to present to the full Council at a later date. Stebbins said iFiber needs to be inside their facility by the end of the year.
Haffey updated everyone on the Hotel/Motel Commitee’s last meeting, reporting that Amy Trimble of Trimble Consulting was present at the meeting, having expressed an interest in working for the City in the position of Hotel/Motel Consultant that had previously been occupied by Ashley Hatteberg. She also said that requests for funds had been received from the Haunted Forest Committee and for the Tri-State Tourism membership dues and also for the $100.00 gas card event promoted on the Hotel/Motel Committee website.
Robinson delivered the Finance Committee report, saying that in discussions with Chief Picolotti, and in light of recent events, the committee recommended that the Ordinance, Public Relations and Health Committee compose an ordinance which would stipulate that boats would no longer be subject to rescue operations, only humans. He also reported that due to rising costs, the committee would task the Water/Sewer/Refuse/Streets and Alleys Committee with looking at raising the rates for use of the City’s Transfer Station. The Committee recommended and received approval for all three requests for funding from the Hotel/Motel Committee, including the $2,000.00 to advertise the Haunted Forest, the $100.00 for the gas card event, and $200.00 for the Tri-State Tourism dues. The Council also heard a recommendation to allow Lindeman to go out for bids for a backhoe; with $120,000.00 budgeted for this item, and Lindeman estimating a cost of between $80,000 and $100,000.00.
Robinson told the Council that in discussions with Chief Moon, Moon had revealed that he’d had talks with Carroll County Sheriff Jeff Doran regarding the possibility of charging the City for non-emergency calls due to Savanna’s high volume of those. Griswold inquired whether or not any other areas in the county were charged, and Robinson said that Savanna’s volume of calls far and away exceeds those of other areas, and Moon confirmed that while other areas are not charged, those call volumes are indeed much lower than Savanna’s.
He added that other counties do charge cities of Savanna’s size for this service. Stebbins emphasized that Savanna no longer had someone staffing the calls at the fire station on a 24/7 basis anymore, and that whoever was on duty might well be out fighting a fire or responding to other emergencies. McCombie stated it was her understanding that something would be put in the newspaper detailing what numbers should be called for what purposes, and that to date that has not been done. Stebbins said that for emergencies, 911 should still be used.
Moon said that all calls coming in were currently being documented so that data could be used for analysis, and Robinson said that once a bank of this data could be analyzed, everyone might have a better grasp of what types of calls were coming in on what numbers and that perhaps trends in volume could be gauged, as well.
Moon suggested that updating the City’s web page in order to more clearly define what types of situations should be addressed at which particular phone number might be beneficial.
Park Board to Take Over Skate Park?
Stebbins updated the Council on the plan to transfer responsibility for and authority over Fat Jack’s Memorial Skate Park to the Savanna Park District. The Park District requested additional information on the park from the City and Stebbins said that currently the City doesn’t have that information. Specifically, they wanted to know about property boundaries, and mowing responsibilities.
He said he would investigate further and report back to the Park Board. He said that when the Skate Park project was ongoing, the City had been in “hurry up mode,” and that it was his intent to have Jensen craft an ordinance making it nearly impossible for the City “to be in the park business,” adding that this Park District is better equipped and financed for this work.
Moving to the matter of the City’s prospective purchase of two properties, Jensen reported that negotiations were ongoing with the owner of 403 Oak Street and that he’d prepared an offer for Jo Carroll Energy for the property located at 1125 Chicago Avenue, with City requesting $5,000.00 for this property, with Jo Carroll paying all relevant property taxes.
The Council unanimously approved a request for waiver of the kennel license fee for Heartland Pet Welfare, after a motion from Robinson, seconded by Scott.
The Council also, by a unanimous vote, agreed to hire Amy Trimble as the new Hotel/Motel Consultant, at a rate of $32.00 an hour not to exceed 15 hours per month and $20.00 per hour meetings, not to exceed 5 hours per month. It also approved an application by the Savanna Firemen’s Association for an intersection solicitor’s license for use on September 15th and 16th at the intersection of Route 64 and Route 84.
Homecoming Parade Road Closure Approved
A resolution authorizing the temporary closure of Main Street from Division Street to Chicago Avenue was approved, for the annual West Carroll Homecoming Parade on October 4th, from 5 pm to 6 pm. Stebbins emphasized that anyone operating a float or a motorized vehicle will be prohibited from throwing candy out into the street, in light of safety concerns. The mayor added that anyone doing so will be asked to stop or else vacate the parade route. Walking along the side of the road and throwing candy toward the sidewalk will be permitted.