City plan has many projects

The Vandalia City Council approved on Monday a spending plan for the coming year that includes a number of capital improvement projects that have been postponed for several years.
Not among those projects is the replacement of a bridge on Thrill Hill Road between U.S. Route 51 and Zent Drive.
The appropriations ordinance for the new fiscal year has expenditures estimated at $9,154,165 and revenues at $9,037,639.
The $116,526 deficit is due in large part to a deficit of $255,518 in the capital improvement fund.
Mayor Rick Gottman explained that the deficit will be covered by some of the city’s surplus funds and is due to the city taking on some projects that have been put off for some time.
Those capital improvement projects include the purchase of new water meters ($178,917), 10 new fire hydrants ($10,588), water and sewer plant lagoon dredgings ($168,000), sidewalk replacements ($30,000), the resurfacing of Edwards Street between Sixth and Seventh streets ($5,000) and the replacement of bridges at Fifth and Randolph streets ($141,000).
The capital improvements fund total for the new fiscal year is $815,918.
Gottman said that, unfortunately, the city does not have the funds available to replace the bridge on Thrill Hill Road, which has been closed to traffic since May of last year.
While the project qualifies under state guidelines as “shovel-ready,” Gottman said, “We do not have the revenues for it.”
The replacement of the bridge is estimated at $450,000, and Gottman said that’s because the project has to be done according to Illinois Department of Transportation specifications.
The mayor said the city “did not want to take up all of our reserves,” in case the state delays in passing along tax monies owed to the city.
“We will get it eventually, but we have to have reserves to pay our employees” in the event that the state is behind on distributing funds to municipalities, Gottman said.
Also on Monday, the council approved – after making a couple of changes – an ordinance that will lowers the age of individuals who can serve alcohol at local businesses.
Put before the council on Monday was an ordinance amendment that would allow employees age 18 and over to “carry, deliver or serve alcoholic liquor in any place where liquor is sold pursuant to a license issued by the city.”
The amendment, which lowers the minimum age of servers from 21, was requested by the owners of Gallatin Street Grille and The Copper Penny.
As the ordinance amendment came up for a vote, the council agreed to make two changes to it as requested by Ward IV Alderman B. John Clark.
Clark wanted the ordinance to stipulate that the ordinance applies to restaurants holding Class E liquor licenses and that the cutoff time for serving by those individuals is 11 p.m.
The amendment change was approved in a 4-3 vote with Clark, Ken Hubler, Dorothy Crawford and Russ Stunkel voting for it and Jerry Swarm, Joel Rebbe and Mike Hobler casting dissenting votes. Alderman Andy Lester was not present.
Also at Monday’s meeting;
• The council approved a Tax Increment Financing agreement with Wait Land Trust (Tom and Bill York) that for the next 10 years reimburses the Yorks 70 percent of the new tax monies created through the construction of two commercial buildings, at 2505 and 2515 Veterans Avenue.
• Rebbe, chairman of the council’s public safety committee, reported that Blaine Redman graduated from the police academy on Friday and is now completing field training as he prepares to join the city’s police force.
• The council approved an ordinance amendment that requires Vandalia Lake lot owners to maintain private sewage disposal facilities through a licensed disposal contractor, and provide a copy of the contract annually no later than Sept. 1.
City Clerk Peggy Bowen said that in the past, some lake lot owners have submitted copies of contracts later in the year, and city employees were unsure which year the contract covers, determining later that the owner had not provided a copy for the previous year.
• The council observed a moment of silence for Dolores Thoman, who was a city employee for 28 years and co-owned Bob Thoman Photography with her husband, and Delmar “Spud” Denning, the owner and operator of Denning’s Auto Sales.

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