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City gets grant for Sunset work

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To design & engineer road, sidewalk

By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

 

Vandalia’s mayor announced on Monday that the city will be taking the first step toward a major improvement to one of the city’s major north-south thoroughfares.

Rick Gottman told alderman at the city council meeting that Vandalia has received a $150,000 grant for the design of a new road surface for Sunset Drive.

The design of the project, the mayor said, includes a new concrete roadway from Randolph Street to Veterans Avenue, as well as a sidewalk on one side of the street.

Gottman said that the Illinois Department of Transportation grant was obtained through the efforts of state Sen. Kyle McCarter (R-Lebanon), and that Crawford and Associates, which now has an office in Vandalia, is in charge of the design.

He emphasized that the grant is for project design only.

“The state wants projects that are shovel-ready, so let’s get it prepared for that,” Gottman said.

Also at Monday’s meeting, the council – as expected – approved a tax levy for the coming fiscal year that does not include any tax increases.

At their Nov. 18 meeting, aldermen were presented with two levy options prepared by the city’s auditor – Timmerman and Co. Ltd. of Vandalia.

One option called for a 3.12-percent increase, to account for a required increase in the police pension fund, and a second proposed keeping the levy total the same – at just over $620,000 – by decreasing the fire protection levy by $19,373.

Aldermen agreed that now is probably not a good time to decrease the fire protection levy, due to their recent approval of a new ladder truck for the city’s volunteer fire department.

Alderman Andy Lester recommended decreasing the corporate levy instead, and that’s what aldermen agreed to do.

The council then voted to again abate taxes related to a 2007 bond issue.

That general obligations bond issue, for public infrastructure improvements, was approved by city residents in a referendum vote.

Being abated are $225,319 in taxes.

In other action on Monday:

• Gottman reported that the city has finally received a $200,000 grant that it applied for in 2009, with plans to use those funds to make improvements in the southwest quadrant of the city’s western Interstate 70 interchange.

The mayor said that the city applied for the grant funds from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity as it was trying to help Sloan Implement build a new facility west of Walmart and Vandalia Commons.

The plan, he said, also included infrastructure improvements designed to help spur development of that area.

Of the grant money received, he said, $100,000 was put back into the city’s revolving loan fund, and $50,000 was put back into both the water and sewer capital improvement funds.

• Gottman reported that the city had received a $50,000 check from Fayette County for its participation in infrastructure extensions to the northeast quadrant of the western I-70 interchange.

The extensions will serve the new South Central FS facility now being constructed, as well as other future developments in that area.

• The mayor reported that the opening of the Huddle House restaurant is now scheduled for next Monday.

The restaurant is adjacent to Holiday Inn Express on Mattes Avenue, off of the intersection of Randolph Street and Veterans Avenue.

• Alderman Terry Beesley, chairman of the council’s water and sewer committee, reported that strong winds had damaged the raw water intake at Vandalia Lake, and that the damage had been repaired.

• Beesley set a meeting of the water and sewer committee for 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 16, to review design/preliminary engineering proposals from two engineering firms for a new water plant.

• The council observed a moment of silence for Ross Hill, a former cemetery sexton, and Steve Hawk, a Vandalia businessman.

• The council were presented with recent tax revenue figures, and Beesley noted that “almost all were down.”