May 30, 2008

Playing Hooky

Posted in General at 3:12 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

Yes, I admit it.  I saw the sun shining, got the itch to go play in it and did.  The only cure for cabin fever is to go play in the sunshine.  After all the rain, thunder boomies and lightening it was a pleasant surprise to see so much sun this morning.  So playing hooky took up the better part of the morning.  Going to lunch with the folks took care of another hour and when I went to get started again the server was down.  That was the next reason to go back outside.  I spent an hour killing dandelions in my first attempt at planting a vegetable garden in 36 years.  Guess I’ll just have to wait and see how that goes.  I do have one little baby pepper starting but I did manage to mow off 2 pepper plants and 1 tomato plant last week.  Geez, you would think that by digging the area up by hand and planting the stuff myself I would remember that when you go around the tree the planting bed is right there.  But no, not me.  I zipped around the tree and neatly chopped off the end three plants.  Oh well some days it just goes like that.  Sometimes I think I do stupid things just to remind myself I am still capable of doing stupid things.

Of course all that kept me from writing about the council meeting last night.  I know excuses…..excuses.

The sun is calling and I am unable to resist the temptation to go play some more.  I will get back to the write ups later.

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City Hall Employees Get 4% Raise

Posted in Council Meetings at 9:02 am by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

A joint meeting of the City Council and Utility Board approved a 4% raise for the 3 City Hall employees after discussion of Mr. Ashour’s recommended 6% raise.

When asked to justify a 6% raise Mr. Ashour stated that he felt that the employees exceeded expectations due to the many challenges they faced during the last year and they should be rewarded.

Mr. Crawford asked how an approval would affect their pay discussions for the other city employees yet to be discussed in the future.  Mr. Ashour responded with you can deal with it across the board or individually.  You set the policy not me.  I was asked for my recommendation and I gave it.

Mr. Belden asked what did we do last year.  The response was 4%.

Mr. Crawford asked what will that do for us next year if we approve a 6% increase this year.  Won’t that set up an expectation.  What if there is not another exceptional year do we go back to 4%.  Mr. Ashour stated that he felt they should be paid what they were worth.  Mr. Waddell stated that was an unfair question because everyone was worth more than what they were paid but that is not what they are here to discuss.

At this point the question of overtime was raised the the council was informed that the city hall employees do not get overtime except in very rare circumstances.  If someone needs to stay late it is Mr. Ashour because he is salaried.

A motion was made and passed by both groups for a 4% raise.

The council then addressed a raise for Mr. Ashour.  A motion was made and passed for a 4% raise.

The Utility Board adjourned.

May 28, 2008

Special Joint Meeting, City Council And Utility Board

Posted in Agenda at 9:07 pm by thevoicesofstuart

Here is the agenda for the Thursday Special Meeting.

Agenda, Special Joint Meeting, City Council and Utility Board

May 25, 2008

Memorial Day

Posted in General at 2:45 pm by thevoicesofstuart

 

 

 The muffled drum’s sad roll has beat

The soldier’s last tattoo;

No more on Life’s parade shall meet

That brave and fallen few.

On fame’s eternal camping ground

There silent tents to spread,

And glory guards, with solemn round

The bivouac of the dead.

Bivouac Of The Dead

By Theodore O’Hara

 

2008 Official Poster

 

 

May 21, 2008

For All You Obama Supporters, Something To Think About

Posted in 2008 Elections at 10:57 am by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

I received this comment asking what I think about the information.  Read it for yourselves and check out the sites mentioned in the comment to verify the statements made.  I am not a fan of Mr. Obama nor do I believe that he is presidential material.  Every person I have talked to who supports him cannot articulate any particular point that they believe he has the answer to.  I find that every point he talks about is pandering to the publics’ dissatisfaction with the current status quo without any real understanding of what the actual problems are.  His immediate quick fixes involve throwing another layer of government and tax money at it.  I do believe that he is running a good scam and it is working for him quite well, unfortunately.  I have a hard time understanding how so many people have allowed themselves to be sucked into thinking he is the answer the country needs yet are they cannot even speak from enough self knowledge and understanding to put forth a sound debate in support of his platform.

Here is the comment.  What do you think?

  

I was sent this to read, interesting. Your point of view Peg?

Political Topic:
50 Lies and Counting: Posted on Political forum.com and many verified with truthorfiction.com and snopes.com – Elections and Campaigns.

1.) Selma Got Me Born – LIAR, your parents felt safe enough to have you in 1961 – Selma had no effect on your birth, as Selma was in 1965.

2.) Father Was A Goat Herder – LIAR, he was a privileged, well educated youth, who went on to work with the Kenyan Government.

3.) Father Was A Proud Freedom Fighter – LIAR, he was part of one of the most corrupt and violent governments Kenya has ever had.

4.) My Family Has Strong Ties To African Freedom – LIAR, your cousin Raila Odinga has created mass violence in attempting to overturn a legitimate election in 2007, in Kenya . It is the first widespread violence in decades.

5.) My Grandmother Has Always Been A Christian – LIAR, she does her daily Salat prayers at 5am according to her own interviews. According to the New York Times: “I am a strong believer of the Islamic faith,” Ms. Obama, 85, said in a recent interview in Kenya .’ Not to mention, Christianity wouldn’t allow her to have been one of 14 wives to 1 man.

6.) My Name is African Swahili – LIAR, your name is Arabic and ‘Baraka’ (from which Barack came) means ‘blessed’ in that language. Hussein is also Arabic and so is Obama.

7.) I Never Practiced Islam – LIAR, you practiced it daily at school, where you were registered as a Muslim and kept that faith for 31 years, until your wife made you change, so you could run for office.

8.) My School In Indonesia Was Christian – LIAR, you were registered as Muslim there and got in trouble in Koranic Studies for making faces (check your own book).

9.) I Was Fluent In Indonesian – LIAR, not one teacher says you could speak the language.

10.) Because I Lived In Indonesia , I Have More Foreign Experience – LIAR, you were there from the ages of 6 to 10, and couldn’t even speak the language. What did you learn, how to study the Koran and watch cartoons.

11.) I Am Stronger On Foreign Affairs – LIAR, except for Africa (surprise) and the Middle East (bigger surprise), you have never been anywhere else on the planet and thus have NO experience with our closest allies. You seek to disarm America while our avowed enemy, Iran , will not subject itself to a nuclear ban. Top Hamas politica l adviser Ahmed Yousef said the Hamas terrorist group ’supports Obama’s foreign policy vision’.

12.) I Blame My Early Drug Use On Ethnic Confusion – LIAR, you were quite content in high school to be Barry Obama, no mention of Kenya and no mention of struggle to identify – your classmates said you were just fine.

13.) An Ebony Article Moved Me To Run For Office – LIAR, Ebony has yet to find the article you mention in your book. It doesn’t, and never did, exist.

14.) A Life Magazine Article Changed My Outlook On Life – LIAR, Life has yet to find the article you mention in your book. It doesn’t, and never did, exist.

15.) I Won’t Run On A National Ticket In ‘08 – LIAR, here you are, despite saying, live on TV, that you would not have enough experience by then, and you are all about having experience first.

16.) Present Votes Are Common In Illinois – LIAR, they are common for YOU, but not many others have 130 NO VOTES.

17.) Oops, I Mis-voted – LIAR, only when caught by church groups and Democrats, did you beg to change your mis-vote.

18.) I Was A Professor Of Law – LIAR, you were a senior lecturer ON LEAVE.

19.) I Was A Constitutional Lawyer – LIAR, you were a senior lecturer ON LEAVE.

20.) Without Me, There Would Be No Ethics Bill – LIAR, you didn’t write it, introduce it, change it, or create it.

21.) The Ethics Bill Was Hard To Pass – LIAR, it took just 14 days from start to finish.

22.) I Wrote A Tough Nuclear Bill – LIAR, your bill was rejected by your own party for its pandering and lack of all regulation – mainly because of your Nuclear Donor, Exelon, from which David Axelrod came.

23.) I Have Released My State Records – LIAR, as of March, 2008, state bills you sponsored or voted for have yet to be released, exposing all the special interests pork hidden within.

24.) I Took On The Asbestos Altgeld Gardens Mess – LIAR, you were part of a large group of people who remedied Altgeld Gardens . You failed to mention anyone else but yourself, in your books.

25.) My Economics Bill Will Help America – LIAR, your 111 economic policies were just combined into a proposal which lost 99-0, and even YOU voted against your own bill.

26.) I Have Been A Bold Leader In Illinois – LIAR, even your own supporters claim to have not seen BOLD action on your part.

27.) I Passed 26 Of My Own Bills In One Year – LIAR, they were not YOUR bills, but rather handed to you, after their creation by a fellow Senator, to assist you in a future bid for higher office.

28.) No One Contacted Canada About NAFTA – LIAR, the Canadian Government issued the names and a memo of the conversation your campaign had with them.

29.) I Am Tough On Terrorism – LIAR, you missed the Iran Resolution vote on terrorism and your good friend Ali Abunimah supports the destruction of Israel. You state you will open friendly communication with the Leader of Iran who is attempting to develop nuclear weapons to destroy us, but refuse to speak to FOX news. You are against provisions of the Patriot act which would all wiretapping of the phones of suspected terrorists in the USA .

30.) I Am Not Acting As President Yet – LIAR, after the NAFTA Memo, a dead terrorist in the FARC, in Colombia , was found with a letter stating how you and he were working together on getting FARC recognized officially.

31.) I Didn’t Run Ads In Florida – LIAR, you allowed national ads to run 8-12 times per day for two weeks – and you still lost.

32.) I Won Michigan – LIAR, no you didn’t.

33.) I won Nevada – LIAR, no you did not.

34.) I Want All Votes To Count – LIAR, you said let the delegates decide.

35.) I Want Americans To Decide – LIAR, you prefer caucuses that limit the vote, confuse the voters, force a public vote, and only operate during small windows of time.

36.) I passed 900 Bills in the State Senate – LIAR, you passed 26, most of which you didn’t write yourself.

37.) My Campaign Was Extorted By A Friend – LIAR, that friend is threatening to sue if you do not stop saying this. Obama has stopped saying this.

38.) I Believe In Fairness, Not Tactics – LIAR, you used tactics to eliminate Alice Palmer from running against you.

39.) I Don’t Take PAC Money – LIAR, you take loads of it.

40.) I don’t Have Lobbyists – LIAR, you have over 47 lobbyists, and counting.

41.) My Campaign Had Nothing To Do With The 1984 Ad – LIAR, your own campaign worker made the ad on his Apple in one afternoon.

42.) My Campaign Never Took Over MySpace – LIAR, Tom, who started MySpace issued a warning about this advertising to MySpace clients.

43.) I Inspire People With My Words – LIAR, you inspire people with other people’s words.

44.) I Have Passed Bills In The U.S. Senate – LIAR, you have passed A BILL in the U.S. Senate – for Africa , which shows YOUR priorities.

45.) I Have Always Been Against Iraq – LIAR, you weren’t in office to vote against it AND you have voted to fund it every single time, unlike Kucinich, who seems to be out gutting you Obama. You also seem to be stepping back from your departure date – AGAIN.

46.) I Have Always Supported Universal Health Care – LIAR, your plan leaves us all to pay the 15,000,000 who don’t have to buy it.

47.) I Only Found Out About My Investment Conflicts Via Mail – LIAR, both companies you site as having sent you letters about this conflict have no record of any such letter ever being created or sent.

48.) I Am As Patriotic As Anyone – LIAR, you won’t wear a flag pin and you don’t put your hand over your heart during the Anthem. There is a Cuban Flag with Che Guevara Displayed at Barack Obama Campaign Office which you allow to be displayed. You voted against making English the official language of the United States . You voted to give illegal aliens social security benefits, which would bankrupt the social security system for Americans legally paying into it.

49.) My Wife Didn’t Mean What She Said About Pride In Country – LIAR, your wife’s words follow lock-step in the vain of Rev. Wright and Louis Farrahkan, in relation to their contempt and hatred of America .

50.) Wal-Mart Is A Company I Wouldn’t Support – LIAR, your wife has received nearly a quarter of a million dollars through Treehouse, which is connected to Wal-Mart.

  

May 15, 2008

Street Superintendent Hourly VS Salaried Discussion

Posted in Council Meetings at 1:56 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

Mr. Waddell addressed the council on his question of why the Street Superintendent a hourly position rather than a salaried position when every other department head position is salaried.  That is the question I asked and would like an answer to.  After reading through this information I can make my case that it certainly should be a salaried position.  Bob, do you want to add anything to the discussion.

Mr. Airhart responded with yes I am the superintendent but when you read the dictionary for superintendent that is not what I do.  85% of my time is spent on the streets getting dirty and muddy with Jim trying to get as much done as possible.  That is not a superintendent.  I am a worker, an employee of the city.  I have the name of superintendent for somebody to come to if they have a problem or to have a finger pointed at and I am okay with that.  That is why I think it should stay hourly. 

Mr. Waddell countered with he thought Bob was selling himself short.  Your job is more than that.  You create your budget, you have a major role in hiring and discipline.  Those decisions would come from you.  You make the determinations if the department needs something and if they can afford it within the budget.  You are responsible for those things.  You are the one who gathers and provides information when we ask questions.  You are the point man for all these things.  Do you work, yes you do, but in a city this size there is no other choice but to work.  So I don’t know that I am convinced that what you do is not 85% of what they consider as administrative. 

Mr. Sherman asked if they say a percentage.  Mr. Waddell responded with what they actually say is primary.  It actually says the employees primary duty must be the performance of office or administrative work directly related to the management or the general business operations of the employer or the employers customers and the employees primary duties require the exercise of the employees discretion and in dependent judgement with respect to matters of significance.  Isn’t it true that if Forrest has a question of some project that is being done doesn ‘t he come to you for a decision.  Aren’t you the one who makes that decision.  Isn’t that exercising discretion and independent judgement with respect to matters of significance.  So that’s where I get the basis.

Now I guess that before I crowd this to much the question is whether this should be a salaried position or remain hourly.  Not what that hourly rate should be or salaried position should be.  I am not talking dollars only what the position should be.  Again reading through this is does not seem to be an hourly position.

Mr. Sherman stated that he has always had a problem with having a two man crew with one position being designated as supervisor.  That just doesn’t make a lot of sense.  Typically a supervisor is in charge of a group of people which means more than one.  Attaching a salary to that tells him that he is a supervisor.  Mr. Waddell countered with he is a superintendent not a supervisor and you can exclude supervisory on what the job description is.  It doesn’t have anything to to with supervision it has to do with the making of decisions using discretion and being responsible. 

The discussion then turned to what the difference was between superintendant and supervisor with the final determination being that superintendent is correct since it carries more responsibility.

Mr. Crawford then brought up that the police department has a chief.  Mr. Waddell stated yes again because of those are administrative duties as much as the supervisory duties.

Mr. Bump then stated that I thought you were looking under the executive exemption so if you look at the administrative exemptions how do you address the bullet that states the employees primary duty must be the performance of primarily office and non-manual work. 

Mr. O’Keefe pointed out that the majority of his job is manual work in a town this small.

Mr. Airhart then asked the council for permission to place an ad for their normal summer help and was given the go ahead.

Mr. Waddell then asked if you are saying your primary duties are the same as jim’s primary duties then maybe I am all wet.  Mr. Henderson responded with it is not a one man show.  It takes two to get the job done.  Mr. Waddell countered with, in that case if your primary duties are basically the same it makes the point that both be salaried.

Mr. Sherman made the point that with a two person group and the requirements especially during winter where equipment has to be made ready they do not have the option to not work like a larger outfit that can schedule differently to avoid overtime.  The other thing I have a problem with is that I do not think that anyone should be able to set their own overtime hours and I am not accusing you of doing that.  Mr. Airhart stated that when we are done we get out of there,  we don’t hang around.  This gets away from Mr. Waddell’s point but my issue with a two man crew is the amount of time off from compensatory time.  That to me is more of an issue.  When we have a hard winter like we just did your compensatory time really gets big.  How many hours have you used and how many are still on the books.  Mr. Airhart stated that he has used 72 hours and still has 35 hours above the 120 hours allowed.  Mr. Sherman stated that was what he saw as more of a problem.  How many weeks of vacation time do you get?  4 weeks was the response.  See that is the problem you are off 3 weeks of Ctime and 4 weeks of vacation that is 7 weeks one is gone from a two man crew.  Mr. Henderson how many weeks do you get for vacation?  4 weeks was the response.  Now that makes my point even greater.  That is 14 weeks in total where we one guy here.  That is the whole point of my issue.  Mr. Ashour informed the council that he has talked with them about how and when they schedule their Ctime and they have agreed to scheduling it during off times.  Mr. Sherman pointed out that he was not even talking about the hours they have over the 120 allowed.  The 14 weeks is a quarter of the year the department has only one person.  How do you get anything done.  Mr. Airhart then asked if they would like to see us cut back so that they get paid for the hours over 120.  Mr. Ashour informed the council that is what they do.  Mr. Waddell stated that they were talking about reducing the 120 hours.  The mayor then informed the council that it was at 120 then it was reduced to 80 then moved back to 120 because the council didn’t like paying the overtime so often.  Mr. Sherman stated that even at 80 hours you are still at 12 weeks of being short one person.  Three months of having one guy here.  Mr. Waddell stated that was the option either pay the overtime or be short a person.  Mr. Sherman then pointed out that is the problem.  The big question is how do you budget for that.  Now that is why I say pay overtime.  We do not have the work force to allow the compilation of overtime.  That leads to the conclusion that now we need to hire another guy.  The other thing is that there are plenty of two man jobs.  Mr. Airhart responded that when he plans to take time off he schedules jobs that can be done by one person.  With the sewer department it is not hard to schedule one man jobs.  Mr. Crawford asked if there was a possibility to share more with the utility department.  Mr. Sherman stated that would cause conflicts with the union.  The issue boils down to whether we can afford to pay overtime or not.  In other words don’t bank any Ctime at all.  Mr. Waddell stated or somewhere in there reducing the Ctime to a acceptable level.  Like 40 hours is all you could have in the bank. 

Mr. O’keefe asked if the majority of the Ctime was because of snow removal.  The response was yes.  I came from a small town in Connecticut and when there were heavy snows we used volunteer fireman to help run the plows.  Mr. Airhart responded that there is only one other person in the fire department with a CDL that could run the truck.  Mr. Sherman then stated that raised the question of insurance liability.  Mr. O’keefe then asked about contracting snow removal out.  Mr. Sherman responded that it is difficult to contract it because it is not like a parking lot where you can wait for the snow to end.  You could hire a part-time guy during the winter for only those times during snowfall.  As long as he has a CDL.  Mr. Airhart responded that they tried that 4 years ago they could not get anyone to stay with it.  Mr. Waddel asked if when you did that did it work well.  Mr. Airhart responded with yes but it is next to impossible to hire a on-call part-time guy who will stay with it.

The mayor then asked if Mr. Ashour needed to figure out the magic number for Ctime vs overtime and the budget implications.  Mr. Ashour pointed out that it was not going to make that much difference and you also have to consider the impact on the employees.  Mr. Crawford asked if it was just a matter of hiring more part-time prople or one more full-time person.  The mayor asked what the difference was money wise from 120 hours of overtime.  Mr. Ashour responded with about $10 K.  For a full-time you are talking about $50 K.  So what it comes down to is that it is a policy that you need to set that you are comfortable with.  In the mean time you just work with the policy that you have of 120 hours and work above that they get cash.  They are trying to use the Ctime as they get the chance and do the best they can.  That is the catch 22 because it does not matter when they take the time since there is always work to be done.  Mr. Sherman re-iterated that it does not resolve the problem of 14 weeks short-handed.  Mr. O’Keefe then asked why wait until spring to hire a part-timer, why not hire them in the winter.  Mr. Airhart responded with because the part-time person is usually a high school or college person who is not available in the winter.  Mr. Waddell asked if there were still grants available for snow recovery help.  He was informed that the grants were stopped about 10 years ago.

Mr. Airhart then brought up the Mr. Henderson’s salary is half sewer department and half street department.  Mr. Belden brought up that only 10 % of the street money is for salaries.  The rest we have to make up.

Mr. Ashour then stated that it is just a policy and there is really nothing to it.  Mr. Sherman countered that it does not change the fact that it causes the department to stay short-handed for 14 weeks and that they continue to bank overtime.  How much overtime do you have on the books Mr. Henderson.  He responded with 200 hours.  Mr. Sherman asked is that the total for the year and only 120 are in the bank.  Hr. Henderson responded that no he has 200 hours right now part from snow plow part from sewer plant and part from when I have to do samples.  The mayor asked if he should be paid for 80 of it.  He responded that he needed to try and use 80 of it before the end of the year.  Then I carry my 120 over to the next year.  Mr. Sherman stated that now you just added 2 more weeks to my argument raising it to 16 weeks with a one person operation.  Mr. Ashour stated that was the catch 22.  The mayor asked if he would rather be paid.  Mr. Henderson stated that it did not make any difference to him.  The work needs to be done and I am the guy who stays and gets it done.  Mr. Sherman responded with if it was a 4 or 5 man crew I can see this policy but with a two man crew I just don’t see how you can get the job done when you are gone 25 % of the time.  That is why things don’t get done and I am not faulting you for that, you do not have the time.  In my opinion we need both of you here more than that.

Mr. Ashour asked if they wanted to bring it back to 80 hours.  Mr. Sherman responded that he didn’t know but he had wanted to discuss it.  The mayor stated that if you want to make the change lets do it instead of bringing this up again.  Mr. Waddell asked if what they have been doing has been working other than the time where only one is working.  Mr. Airhart responded that he thought it was.  Mr. Sherman brought up that there are people around town who do not think it is working.  That there are issues that do not get resolved, there is trees that don’t get cut, there are people who do not see things happening as they should.  I know that you will never get everything done but if you are there that much more then more things will get done.  Mr. Airhart responded with it is a matter of priorities.  We already know about the majority of these things before some one brings it up.  Mr. Sherman stated that is my point if you guys were here more more would get done, especially in the summer.  I just think that it is to much time to be gone.  I think that with a 2 guy situation we should just pay the overtime and have them there to work.  That is the issue we need to decide can we pay the extra $10K.  Mr. Airhart stated that you have to realize that it will fluctuate year to year and that $10 K buys about 6 blocks of seal-coat.  Mr. Sherman countered with that $10 K also represents the more time you will be here to get things done.  Cutting trees, mowing this, fixing that.  Mr. Henderson then informed the council that when the changes are made to the sewer plant it will require more time there also.  They estimate that sewer plant duties will increase to about half a day.  Mr. Sherman responded that you just made my point.  Mr. Airhart stated that that will leave me alone on the street more.  Mr. Sherman stated exactly you will be left alone on the street more and fewer things will get done. 

The discussion then turned to how much overtime there was and how much it will cost to pay it.  Mr. Ashour then stated that it works out to about $4,800. each.  Mr. Sherman than asked if we could afford that.  Mr. Ashour responded that they could take it from road use and pay it.  If you want me to pay it I will.  Mr. Waddell asked if the sewer department pays for half of Mr. Henderson’s overtime.  Mr. Ashour stated yes.  Mr. Crawford then stated that even if we pays this does it really solve the problem.  Mr. Ashour stated that it is good that you are talking about this and he had the same discussion with Bob and Jim a couple of months ago and we reached a mutual agreement. 

Mr. Belden then asked if they could have a breakdown of the street projects, plans and maintenance schedule so that when they hear from the public we have something to consult when speaking to them.  Mr. Airhart stated that we know they need to be done.  Some things cannot be done because of conditions, some things are getting done like last week they got the north side alleys graded.  Mr. Belden countered with if some one comes up and says there are 20 pot holes in this alley and I would like to know when it is going to be fixed we should be able to go to some sort of plan and be able to tell them when it is scheduled to be done or it is not in the budget for this year but here is an idea when we will be able to get to it.  Mr. Sherman stated that your answer should be that the street superintendent knows that the alleys are having problems and they are being addressed as soon as they can get to them.  Mr. Airhart stated that you are setting yourself up for failure if you try to do that because priorities and conditions change.  Mr. Belden asked what are the plans and priorities for the streets this year do you know.  Mr. Ashour stated that he has a sheet to hand out later. 

The mayor asked if they were done with this discussion.  Mr. Crawford asked how do you expect us to talk to someone who comes up and says that this has been a problem for 5 years and nothing has been done.  That everytime they have brought it up they have been told it is a priority and it never gets done.  I have no way to know when that priority is planned to be taken care of.  Any feedback the public can get is better than I don’t know.  The mayor than stated that you should tell them to call Bob for the answer.  I call Bob and have him call them back.  Mr. Ashour stated that is the procedure we are using for complaints like that.  Mr. Crawford stated that as a council we need to know information like there is never enough money in the budget for a project like that because of the other priorities and it will never get done or it is on our list to get done but we never have enough time to get it done.  Those are the things that we need to know.  Mr. Airhart responded that on alleys we blade them and that is all we do.  Mr. Crawford re-iterated his last comment.  Mr. Ashour stated that he understood what they were talking about and that from the last few meetings he knew that they needed to increase the communication with the council and you decided to have Bob attend each council meeeting and that is what he is doing.  Mr. Airhart asked if he could be notified at least by monday morning of any questions they have so he can have the information ready for the meeting.  Mr. Waddell pointed out that he should not think that he had to have all the answers on everything because different things may come up.  It is okay to say you need to find out if you do not know. 

Mr. Airhart passed out a color coded map stating the red and blue were the priorities.  The base bid for the red and the blue is $173 K which is a high estimate.  The alternates are Adair Street and N. Harlan Street.  2nd and 4th Streets are already asphalted but the shoulders are starting to fall off.  The blue has to be taken out completely and redone.  The next page is the seal-coat.  I do not have any bids on this yet.  N. Gaines where the sewer has collapsed needs to be all taken out and rebuilt.  Mr. Ashour stated that it is not as bad and it looks.  That the south side is in pretty good shape.  They will be putting a storm drain in north of shirley Jones house to pickup the drainage that is getting into her house.  When I do that they will have to tie into our box.  The storm sewer on 2nd and Division needs to be rebuilt.  We are going to get to them.  Mr. Sherman asked about the new drainage installed on N. Harlan Street andwhether it was working like they expected it would.  Mr. Henderson informed them that there was so much frost in the ground that the water could not get to the tile line.  Once the frost came out everything drained like it was suppose to.

This ended the discussion.                                                    

                                                             

May 14, 2008

Aquatic Center Gets Go Ahead

Posted in Council Meetings at 5:20 pm by thevoicesofstuart

by Peggy Schlichter

Mr. Ashour informed the council that the monies collected from grants and donations have been moved into a city account as recommended by the audit and that the council will now see payments on their monthly statements. 

The Aquatic Center Committee informed the council that they needed an answer of whether the council is ready to go forward on the project.  They have run into a wall on grant requests because they are usually tied to completion dates to qualify.

At this point the council discussed whether they were going to advance the project to a vote for the use of a general obligation bond or to use TIF to finance the project and continue the project now.  (Remember that TIF does not affect property taxes and a general obligation bond does) 

Mr. Belden proposed that they go forward under the TIF option without increasing the tax burden.

Mr. Waddell did also stating that there is no reason to hold the project any further.

Mr. Crawford stated that there will still be enough TIF available if they need to fund any other projects even with doing this project.  He did not see a reason to slow down at this point.

Mr. Belden pointed out that using the TIF Revenue Bonds on an annual appropriation basis gives them the flexibility to re-structure each year if it becomes necessary.  He further pointed out that the scenerio they were looking at assumes that there this is a no growth situation and that TIF revenue does not increase.  Both being very conservative assumptions that do not stress financing.

The mayor asked if they had to look at the sunset of the urban renewal areas.  Mr. Belden stated that yes you do but the the areas can be re-certified as they expire. 

The committee re-iterated that they can go no farther unless they get a commitment form the council on going forward with the project.  Mr. Aldrich informed the council that he could have an engineering agreement ready by the June 9th meeting if they wanted.

Mr. Ashour asked the council if they wanted to wait for the next meeting to make a decision.  The council discussed what benefit that would be and decided that they wanted to go ahead and make a decision.  The council seemed to be trying to decide if they wanted to do this while they were still working of the new city buildings project even though they knew a decision needed to be made soon. 

At this point I asked to speak to the council and informed them that using TIF to finance the project upholds all the previous councils pledge to the citizens to not use property tax money for the project, it does not have to go to a vote, no one will fight them on the project if they use TIF.  Monies can be re-structured each year if necessary and they needed to just do it and get it done.  That seemed to break the hesitation on the council’s part.

The council agreed and made and passed a motion to go forward on the project using 100% TIF to fund the project.  This sets in motion the process to get the resolution developed and ready for the next meeting.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

There is one discussion left to cover on the street department and I will not get to it until tomorrow. 

The Planning And Zoning Discussion

Posted in Council Meetings at 4:26 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

Mr. Foy raised the question of adjusting the weight limits on some of the roads to help curtail the damage done of some of the roads in town.  Mr. Sherman informed him that the roads in question were farm to market roads and that they had to be allowed to use them.  Mr. Foy brought up the question of how the county gets to embargo roads and we don’t.  Mr. Sherman pointed out that was the mistake we made on N. Division Street and that you cannot change weight limits on state highways.  Mr. Airhart pointed out that the designated truck routes are Harlan, Adair, Division, Front, 7th and 8th Streets.  

The next issue raised was the commission’s concerns about what needs to happen out east of town when the new high school goes in.  He advised them that the street department and police need to start looking at how they are going to handle traffic then.  Particularly looking at the different times of day and how traffic will be affected.  Mr. Foy had a map of the school outline showing where it will be located.  Mr. Waddell asked if a turning lane needed to be put in.  Mr. Foy agreed that the situation needed to be looked at and further suggested that they needed to look at whether the two entrances were two way or one way.  He also raised the question of the need for sidewalk installation out to the school both on Front Street and/or out an extension of 2nd Street.  Mr. Okeeffe asked if it would have to cross All Saints area.  Mr. Foy did not know.  He stated that it is something that needed to be looked at. 

Next was the question of whether the council had been approached by the school about closing one block of the street between the school and the parking lot especially during construction.  The council stated that they had heard rumors but had not been formally approached.  Mr. Foy pointed out that closing it a couple of hours during the day was different than permanently closing the street there. 

Mr. Sherman brought up the point that until the school comes to them with a plan they had no idea what they were working on with the county.  The county should be the ones saying whether we need a turning lane or not.  Mr Crawford informed the council that the school has started their communications with the county but did not know if they had gotten to the point of talking about streets yet.  Mr. Foy pointed out that there are approximately 100 cars between student and faculty going to and from the high school daily.  Mr Waddell brought up that the sporting events will be the worst since that has the higher influx of traffic.  Mr. Foy pointed out that sporting event traffic would be out side of the normal commuting times. 

The mayor then asked Mr. Waddell if he was the one in charge of the interface on the streets.  He agreed he was.

Mr. Foy than brought up that they should also consider opening a street east of McDonald’s that would run north behind the Super 8 and Hometown that would connect up with S. Fremont Street giving locals access without having to get on S. Division.  This would open up a corridor from McDonald’s to the sports field.  Mr. Crawford asked if the road would provide easier access for the trucks to get into the grocery store.  No one seemed to think it would.  Mr. Foy stated that the commission thought that this would be very beneficial to alleviate some of the congestion around the interstate businesses.

The next area mentioned was to open a street between S. W. 8th and Burger King to allow access to the motel from the interstate.  The mayor pointed out that Burger King does not want to give up their second drive thru lane.  Burger King has been approached before on this issue and are not willing to allow it even though people turn in there and get frustrated by not being able to find the way to the motel through the parking lot.  The mayor recommended that the Planning and Zoning write them a letter proposing that and see what answer they get.   Mr. Foy stated they would be glad to do that.

Mr. Foy then informed the council that the commission was starting to look at the areas around where the new school will be located and trying to determine whether any zoning changes need to be made to help facilitate growth in town.

The council was then asked by Mr.Foy what the long range plans were for the seal coat streets that are deteriorating around town pointing out that several are getting pretty tough to drive on and when they planned to work on them.  Mr. Sherman informed him that the street superintendant has been tasked with putting together a list of all the streets that need fixing.

                        

Dell Oil Challenges Sidewalk Snow Removal Citations

Posted in Council Meetings at 1:28 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

Billie Goff who owns the Dell Oil lot just north of the Casey’s is an absentee owner who received 2 citations for failing to have the snow removed from the sidewalk on December 18th and March 28th.  The first bill was for $40. and the second for $65..  She presented to the council the copies of the citations she received and questioned the wording of the February resolution which states that reasonable notice must be given.  Secondly, she pointed out that the ordinance points out that the payment is to be assessed on property taxes not as a payment of cash.  She also pointed out that she had contacted by Bert Dalmer of the State Ombudsman Office as a part of a separate investigation started by another person who had received a bill for the same reason.  She pointed out that as an absentee owner she does not always know when snowfalls here and without the reasonable notice as stated in the resolution she should not be penalized.  At this point Mr. Bump stated that he needed time to review the ordinance and resolution. 

After reading the ordinance and resolution Mr. Bump informed the council that the ordinance does not have a pre-notification requirement.  The resolution introduces that.  Now we need to determine from Robert if he thinks they gave reasonable notice.  Robert responded that Officer Hrubetz did notify her one time for the snow removal.  I know it has been removed a couple of times by the contractor.  The way I interpret the resolution is that we do the door hanger as a reminder that the ordinance is in effect and the snow has to be removed from the sidewalk.  It doesn’t say that every single time you get a warning.  She had the one warning and notice had been made.

Mr. Sherman asked if they could get more specific on each time the snow was removed.  He questioned whether reasonable notice was given on the first incidence.  Robert responded with I think that Officer Hrubetz did give reasonable notice and I assume that he probably called her.  He was then asked if he did or did not call her.  Robert answered that he could find out but Officer Hrubetz was on a 30 day vacation.  Mr. Sherman asked if there is a documented phone call that he gave her reasonable notice.  Robert re-iterated that he would have to contact Officer Hrubetz.  Mr. Sherman then asked if reasonable notice was given on the second notice.  Robert informed the council that no she was not notified because when they get their first reasonable notification that’s it.  We are not doing it for every snow fall.

Mr. Waddell pointed out that there is no door there to hang it on she is an absentee owner.  I don’t believe that an absentee owner should have any more rights than a person who actually lives on the property. 

Mr. Bump then informed the council that in his opinion on the second event it did not appear that we followed our own resolution.  The first event is subject to determining what Officer Hrubetz did.  If the answer is no then we do not charge her and we have until next winter to figure out how we are going to handle this.

Mr. Waddell pointed out that he is not in favor of having to make a phone call every time it snows.  That was not the intent of the resolution.  It was to have a way to inform people that they were enforcing the ordinance and give them reasonable opportunity to respond.  Robert then pointed out that the door hangers were to be issued one time only to help inform people not every time there is a snow fall.

Mr. Sherman then pointed out that they have to go by the way the resolution is written not what their intent was.  He thought that they were all in agreement that they did not want to be in the business of having to call every time someone did not clear their sidewalk but that did not apply at this point.

Mr. Bump then stated that the ordinance is very specific that you get 48 hours after the end of snowfall to clear your sidewalks.  You do not have to give notice at all.  The door-hangers are nice but not a requirement.

Mr. O’keeffe pointed out that he understands that ordinance right now says that we have to give notice and Mr. Bump corrected him with no that resolution says that the ordinance does not.  He then clarified that we have a ordinance that says we do not and a resolution that say we do.  Why do we have to drag this out.  The first one was done under the ordinance that does not require a notification.  The second was given under the resolution.  Mr. Ashour agreed that the date for the first was before the resolution and the second was after the resolution.

Mr. Bump then stated that that made it simple.  The first one stands and the second should be forgiven.  Mr. Ashour then confirmed the dates for the council that the citations were given under two different rules.  Mr. Bump then clarified the finding to Billie Goff that the first citation fell under the ordinance which did not require notification so it would stand.  The second fell under the resolution and no reasonable notice was given so it is forgiven. 

Billie Goff then asked how are you going to enforce the first fine.  Mr. Bump responded with we are going to give you a notice and an opportunity to pay and if you don’t it will become a lein and assessed just like property taxes are.  Billie then asked where she could protest this ruling and was told this is your court.  She pointed out that Mr. Dalmer would be a participant in the final ruling.  Mr. Bump informed her that district court would be her next step.  Mr. Sherman pointed out that this was her protest of the citations.

Billie then pointed out that they do not like their own resolution and what should she do for next year.  What is going to be the requirement she has to follow since she is an absentee owner.  Mr. Bump pointed out that there will probably not be any notices given in the future and you will have to figure it out.  Most people contract with some one to take care of it after each snow.  If you do not want to do that then it is your responsibility to get on the Internet and see if it has snowed in Stuart and take care of it. 

Mr. Waddell requested that the motion state why they made the determination as they did.  Mr. Bump then gave the wording for the motion stating the dates and which ordinance or resolution each citation fell under and why how they made their determination. 

The motion was then passed to waive the charge on the second citation because reasonable notice was not given under the resolution and enforce the charge on the first citation because the ordinance does not require notification.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

As always these are my thoughts and mine alone.

After thinking about this for a while I guess my biggest question is why the council is trying to use a resolution to change an ordinance?  If they insist on using a resolution I do not see how they can make it more stringent than the ordinance.  Either for the city who has to enforce it or to the citizens who must follow it.   Shouldn’t the ordinance just be changed to reflect the new policy.   

The second question that comes to mind is why the police have no actual proof that the infraction occured in the first place other than someone saying it did.  Nor are they able to produce a record of their actions during the enforcement of the action.  The police have stated in previous council meetings that they take before and after pictures and turn the digital discs into the city but there has never been a picture produced to support the city’s claim during any of the previous challenges.   

As I remember everyone who has come to the council protesting the resolution/ordinance has been successful in getting the citation waived in whole or in part as this last episode reflects. 

Since Mr. Dalmer’s name was raised several times it is apparent that others have contacted him about the same issue.  While a challenge to the Ombudsman’s Office is prudent it is never a way for speedy resolution of the issue.   

At this point it would be silly not to challenge every citation for snow removal to the council.  No evidence has ever been produced that supports that the infraction actually occurred, that the cleaning was actually done at the residence in question or that the area in question was actually on private property in the first place as evidenced in previous challenges where the cleaning was done on the street side of the curb.  

                                                          

May 13, 2008

New And Old Business

Posted in Council Meetings at 3:48 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

New Business

Mr. Waddell raised the issue of allowing two nights for outdoor beer and liquor permits for Johnies and Ruby’s Pub to accommodate the street dance one night and karaoke the other night.  The council will vote favorablely to the request as long as the businesses provide an ID checker.  The police will provide security for the events as usual.  Both businesses must make their formal requests at the next meeting.

Mr. Crawford raised the issue of the water fountain not working at the sports field.  Mr. Bump informed the council that the True Value removes the valve every winter because it is not frost free and it probably just hasn’t been put back in yet.  True Value will be contacted to have it installed.

Old Business

Mr. Sherman raised the issue of when the helicopter was using the Coe site he believed that the city had given him a reduced rate or eliminated the property taxes for the site.  He had been told that there was an agreement between the city, county and Mr. Coe that needed to be researched.  If that was in fact so, the agreement needed to be rescinded.  Mr. Ashour is to look into the situation. 

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

There are still four topics to be covered.  The Dell Oil Sidewalk Snow Removal Challenge, The Planning and Zoning Commission Discussion, The Street Department Hourly VS Salaried Discussion and The Aquatic Center Financing Discussion.  They will probably not start to go up until tomorrow sometime.  I’m tired and need to find some dinner, oops i mean supper.

       

The Shorter Agenda Items, Part 2

Posted in Council Meetings at 3:14 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

Easement – Michael Hauf

A Public Hearing date is set for June 9th at the next regular council meeting on the issue of the city granting an easement to Mr. Hauf.  If you remember from the last meeting Mr. Hauf requested that the council abandon the alley in the 600th block of Front Street where a house had been built 50 years ago.  Mr. Foy informed the council that the Planning and Zoning Board had no problems with the easement.

Midwest Partnership Annual Contribution

The council made and passed a motion to pay the annual contribution to Midwest Partnership.

Bath House Project

Mr. Askren informed the council on the status of the project.  They are shooting for having the project completed by the pool opening date but they are not sure yet.  He is attending a meeting on the 15th and will know better then.  At the worst case he feels that it would only be a 2 to 3 day delay.  The change orders were for water line changes at an increased cost of $2,500. and a savings of $2,000 in another area.  The city will construct a drop-off lane in the front of the bath house sometime this summer.  Mr. Airhart is removing the concrete this week.

Rescue Unit Director Contract

Mr. Ashour presented the council with the copy of the new Rescue Unit Director Contract with all of the changes made.  The council made and passed a motion to approve the contract.

Police Department

Robert informed the council that the new landing zone for the helicopter is 696 feet west of the AmericInn driveway on S. W. 8th Street.  He reported that the pilots were comfortable with the location.  The chief pilot of Mercy One requested that a large white “H” be painted on the roadway that is visible from the air so that there is no confusion when different pilots are flying.  The height of the letter is 24’3″ and the width is 15′ 4″.  Mr. Sherman raised the issue of if this was permissible on a roadway and was going to check the state manual.  An issue of liability was raised and Robert is going to check with the city’s insurance agent.  He has also spoken with the FedEx and they have no problems with the designation.  During the time of landings the police will secure one end of the landing zone and the ambulance will secure the other end.  A decision was made that if there is no problem with the insurance the “H” would be painted.    

He also informed the council that the Chamber has requested that the city pay for 6 port-a-pots for Good Egg Days.  Two at the park and two each on the east and west side of 2nd Street since there will be a carnival again this year.  For all of those wondering it is a different carnival than last year.  The council made and passed a motion to pay for the porties.

The street closings for Good Egg Days will be for the same streets and times as last year with the exception of S. W. 2nd Street from Northwestern to Division which will be closed to accomodate the Kid’s parade and the bath house ribbon cutting.  The Kid’s Parade will start at the bath house and go down S. W. 2nd to Division  then back through the park on the sidewalk ending at the alley.

There are 4 or 5 municipal infractions that have not been abated and Robert requested that the next step be taken.  Mr. Ashour was instructed to continue the abatement process of the remaining infractions.

Robert then requested that the “reasonable notice” sentence be removed from the snow removal resolution.  This topic will be covered under the post of the Dell Oil Sidewalk Snow Removal Challenge.

Public Hearing To Re-Codify City Code of Ordinances

Every 5 years the city is required by State Code to re-codify it’s Code of Ordinances to bring it up to date by incorporating all the new ordinances passed.  This is the fifth year.  A public hearing date of June 9th at the next regular council meeting was approved by the council.

 

 

 

The Shorter Agenda Items, Part 1

Posted in Council Meetings at 1:30 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

Permits

For those of you who frequent Stuart BP, Lincoln’s Lounge and Ruby’s Pub you will be glad to know that their Beer and Liquor Permits have been approved for another year.

IDOT

The council approved the $57 K payment to IDOT for the overpass work that was finished a couple of years ago.  The payment will be spread over 5 years.  The reason for the lateness in IDOT requesting the payment is that the contract was for multiple years covering multiple projects across the state.  That contract is now being completed.

Depot Committee

Depot Committee representative Lois Bench presented to the council with a summary of where they are to date and a copy of their brochure which outlines the importance of the railroad to Stuart.  80% of the renovation is paid by a T21 grant and 20% is paid by Hotel/Motel Tax.  The T21 grant is a reimbursable grant and will be paid over time.  The architect fees were approved by the council. 

103 N. E. 4th Driveway

Mr. Alan Cook and Mr. Raymond Surber addressed the council on the driveway approach and informed the council that they have come to an understanding that the Surber’s would not park on the grass on the Cook property.  As a result Mr. Cook has dropped his request that the driveway curb be moved.

Division Street Update

Mr. Forrest Aldrich updated the council on the project.  The church parking will be painted this week.  The tax assessment documents must be filed with the county by June 1st and if that date is missed the city will have to wait a year to re-submit.  At the May 29th special meeting the council will accept the project and the city will hand deliver the documents to the county.  The outstanding issue was for liquidated damages.  Mr. Aldrich needed to know from the council how much they wished to pursue.  He advised them from previous experience that anything over $5 k is usually contested by the contractor.  Mr Belden asked if the drainage issues had been evaluated.  Mr. Aldrich informed the council that the elevation was re-checked twice and it showed that it was suitable for industry standard drainage at an eighth of an inch an hour.  The water may sit for a while but it drains within the acceptable standard.  Mr. Cook raised the issue that during the winter there was up to 6 inches of water in the swale where the side streets meet.  Mr. Airhart informed the council that the swale is difficult to remove snow from and when he runs the cleaner he has difficulties.  The difficulty is a result of the street being paved 6 inches higher than originally planned.  Mr. Aldrich informed the council that the best way to fix it was to lower the approach on 4th Street.  Mr. Aldrich stated that he will go and look at it after the meeting and that it is not a drainage issue but more of a transition issue.   Mr. Sherman raised the back fill issue.  Mr. Airhart informed the council that the contractor had re-filled the low spots last week and Mr. Henderson had re-seeded those areas.  Mr. Aldrich then asked the council how much liquidated damages they wanted to assess.  After a brief discussion of the breakdown of $4,300 for extra seal-coat and $5,200 for extra inspection time the council made and passed a motion for liquidated damages in the amount of $9,500.

Public Hearing On Stuart Urban Renewal Area

The public hearing was opened and closed with no comments on the planned amendment.  A resolution was made and passed approving the amendment.

General Obligation Corporate Purpose and Refunding Loan

A resolution was made and passed to set May 29th as the date for the Public Hearing on the proposed funding for the $2.795 M City Hall, Library and Police Station construction and the re-financing of $375 K for the bath house.  The planned financing of the new city buildings will utilize TIF and not be assessed against property taxes.  The re-financing of the bath house does not qualify for TIF and an assessment of around $.64 is expected.

Bond Council Fees

A motion was made and passed to pay bond attorney fees.

 

May 9, 2008

Agenda, May City Council Meeting

Posted in Agenda at 11:08 pm by thevoicesofstuart

Here is the agenda for the May City Council Meeting.

Agenda, Stuart City Council 51208