City cuts $$$ from budget

Working together, Vandalia’s mayor, aldermen and department heads have trimmed about $170,000 from this year’s budget.
The Vandalia City Council at last week’s meeting approved minutes from committee meetings in January, during which city officials worked with department heads in fine-tuning spending figures in the various city funds.
The committee meetings were held as part of the city’s effort to address a deficit of about $220,000 in this year’s budget.
The cutbacks in the various funds include:
• Public works-water – $3,250.
• Public works-sewer – $1,375.
• Water plant – $2,400.
• Sewer plant – $6,250.
• Police – $3,500, plus a $27,796.91 savings due to the recent resignation of one police officer and extended duty in the National Guard by another officer.
• Public works-streets – $22,800, including $20,000 in supplies.
• Public works-garage – $2,400.
• Cemetery – $25.
• Lake – $32,525, including $10,000 in legal fees and $15,000 in capital improvements.
• Fire – $4,500.
• Economic development – $22,525, including $10,000 in technical/outside services.
• City clerk – $33,377.85, including $10,000 in building maintenance and $9,000 in miscellaneous expenses.
• Water administration – $22,195, including almost $15,000 in insurance expenses.
• Administration – $8,199.42, including $4,000 in supplies and educational expenses.
Later in the meeting, Mayor Rick Gottman reported that he had directed department heads to work on budgets for the new fiscal year, and said he will be asking everyone to pare down their budgets as much as possible.
“We have to have a balanced budget next year,” Gottman said, “we have to.”
Also at last week’s meeting, the board approved three Tax Increment Financing agreements as recommended by the city’s TIF Advisory Committee.
Those agreements included:
• A grant of up to $7,500 to Wehrle Properties for rehabilitation of the property at 730 W. Gochenour Street, with the estimated project cost being $15,000. The project includes the demolition of the former Jay’s Barn Restaurant, estimated at $7,500.
• A grant of up to $7,500 to Arthur Young Inc. to help pay for the installation of new metal siding, downspouts and guttering on the east side of the dealership. The estimated cost of the project is $22,180.
• An $8,265.40 grant to the National Road Interpretive Center to cover the cost of tuckpointing of the entire building at 106 S. Fifth St.
• A grant of $2,400 to the Vandalia Main Street Program to cover the cost of repairing a retaining wall at the west end of Main Street’s parking lot in the 100 block of South Fifth Street.
Also at last week’s meeting:
• The council voted to increase to six the number of Class E liquor licenses available in the city. Gottman, as the city’s liquor commissioner, has the authority to issue that sixth license to Old Capitol View Restaurant and Lounge at the northwest corner of Fourth and Gallatin streets.
• The council approved an agreement with Hurst-Roche Engineers of Hillsboro through which the city will pay the firm $3,600 for the inspection of eight bridges.
This service was formerly provided by the Illinois Department of Transportation, but that state agency no longer does that work because of cuts in state funding.
• The council approved a preliminary engineering agreement with the Illinois Department of Transportation for the project which includes replacing two bridges at Fifth and Randolph streets with one structure.
The project cost is estimated at a little more than $1.5 million, with $1.142 million coming from the state’s major bridge fund and the city’s share of $305,700 being paid with state Motor Fuel Tax funds.
The project schedule calls for a June 2012 bid-letting and the opening of bids in August 2012.
Gottman said that Fayette County’s highway engineer, Michael Maxey, was instrumental in getting state funding for the project.
• The council approved an agreement with Terracon Consultants for brownfield redevelopment services that includes the pay rates for the firm.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded the city a $200,000 brownfields assessment grant for environmental assessments on petroleum-contaminated sites within the city.
Director of Economic Development JoAnn Givens said the funds will be sufficient to conduct environmental site assessments on five properties as well as cleanup planning on three properties.
Givens said local citizens can ask the city to work on brownfield sites or the city can approach owners of contaminated sites.
•Alderman Larry Cable, chairman of the council’s water and sewer committee, reported that work on the lift station near Wal-Mart on the city’s west side, estimated to cost about $3,000, ended up costing $31,756.
That large increase, Cable said, was due to the fact that there was a large cavity around the lift station. “We’re lucky that the ground didn’t collapse around it.
The council discussed a proposal to have the city’s public works department, instead of private contractors, take care of water and sewer cutoffs during demolition projects.
The council is scheduled to vote on such action next week, with the proposal calling for the city to issue demolition permits that include a fee to cover the city’s costs related to the cutoffs.
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