City OKs animal control contract

Even though several aldermen expressed concerns, the Vandalia City Council approved on Monday a contract with Fayette County for animal control services.
The agreement calls for the city to pay the county $10,500 per year for the next five years. Dr. Connie Heaton receives $58,000 annually to provide the service for the entire county.
The city was the final municipality in the county to sign an agreement with the county for animal control. The other municipalities were included when the county approved a new agreement with Heaton in February.
The council approved the agreement in a 7-1 vote, with aldermen Bret Brosman, Larry Bennett, Lisa McNutt, Jerry Swarm, Dean Black, Mike Hobler and Andy Lester voting for it, and Larry Cable casting the dissenting vote.
“I just wonder if there’s anyone else in Fayette County who is interested in doing this,” Cable said.
Mayor Rick Gottman reminded Cable that the council was approving an agreement with the county, not with Heaton.
But Cable said, “It kind of concerns me, after hearing (from) more than one person.”
The council’s public safety committee discussed the contract with the county during two recent committee meetings, with Heaton and Fayette County Board Chairman Steve Knebel attending one of those meetings.
Knebel told committee members that while complaints were lodged against Heaton last year, state inspectors visited her veterinary clinic and found no problems.
Lester said that while he understands that the city’s contract is with the county, “I understand what Larry is saying.”
Swarm, chairman of the public safety committee, said that he doesn’t like the fact that Heaton and Second Chance Animal Rescue aren’t able to work together on pet adoptions.
“It would be nice if they could work their differences out,” Swarm said.
Also at the meeting, Gottman reported that the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency will be bringing in a crew to clean up fuel tanks at the former Clark gas station at the northwest corner of Kennedy Boulevard and Randolph Street.
The mayor said that the IEPA plans to perform the cleanup in mid- to late-April, and that the agency only gets directly involved in the cleanup of abandoned property. Gottman said attempts to locate the owner of the property have been unsuccessful.
Prior to the startup of the project, city police will be notifying people living near the station that they will not be allowed to park on the property. Vehicles parked there when work begins will be towed at the owners’ expense, Gottman said.
The cleanup will involve only the fuel tanks, Gottman said, explaining that the building on the property will not be touched.
In other action:
• Organizers of a car show planned for July 16-17 at the Vandalia Lake campgrounds attended the meeting to verify publicly that they had talked with city officials about the event.
Hobler, chairman of the lake committee, said, “Everything seems to be good” for the Midwest All-Ford Nationals.
Tony Lawler said he was upset that he had received verbal approval from Hobler and lake Manager Rob Schukar for the show, then heard that Hobler said at the March 7 council meeting that the organizers had not gotten approval from the lake committee.
After meeting with Hobler and Schukar, Lawler said, “We had no reason to believe it would not be approved.”
Hobler confirmed that he had given his preliminary OK, but said he was surprised to see flyers about the show before more specific plans were given to the committee.
Lawler said the problem was that he had gone out to get financial support for the show locally, then started hearing from people about the status of the show after reading Hobler’s comments in the March 10 issue of The Leader-Union.
He said that he wanted the supporters, and the general public, to understand that he and Bill Haselhorst had gotten the OK from lake officials to proceed with their plans.
Asked if he and Haselhorst had spoken with Police Chief Larry Eason about security and traffic control, Lawler said that Eason had told him that he couldn’t provide any officers because of city cutbacks.
Lawler said he was concerned about traffic backing up from the campground parking area onto Ill. Route 185, and Gottman encouraged him to contact the Illinois State Police about the issue.
• The council approved a two-year agreement with Timmermann and Co. Ltd. for audit services. Through the agreement, the city will continue to pay the local CPA firm $27,500 each year for the services.
• The council approved an agreement with the Illinois Department of Transportation covering the maintenance of traffic control devices on state routes.
• The council approved an amendment to the city’s water purchase agreement with Fayette Water Co. The amendment states that the rate charged to the rural water company for water may be modified “periodically” instead of annually.
Cable said the change was made after the council approved more than one water rate increase for users of city water last year.
The amendment was approved in a 7-1 vote, with Schwarm casting the dissenting vote.
• The council approved a resolution opposing changes to the Illinois Tax Increment Allocation Redevelopment Tax.
In the resolution, the city voices its displeasure with “special interest groups who want to diminish the effectiveness of the TIF (Tax Increment Financing) Act by proposing drastic changes.”
• The council approved the minutes of the March 16 meeting held by its railroad, industrial development and tourism committee.
At that meeting, committee members, Gottman and City Attorney Jack Johnston talked with Pioneer Railroad officials about which entity is responsible for improvements to the Fillmore Street rail crossing.
There was no resolution at that meeting.
• The council approved the minutes of the city’s Zoning Board of Adjustments meeting on March 16.
At that meeting, the board voted unanimously to approve a variance on lot size for duplexes on Paula Lane.
• The council agreed to set May 9-13 as the city’s Cleanup Week.
• City Clerk Peggy Bowen reported that the state of Illinois still owes the city $174,405.17 for water and sewer services provided to Vandalia Correctional Center.

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