Impasse effect

The state’s budget impasse is having a big impact on the city of Vandalia’s financial status, Mayor Rick Gottman told the city council on Monday.
As the treasurer’s report was presented to the council for approval, Gottman pointed out that the state has fallen way behind on its tax payments to the city.
For example, he said:
• The general sales tax payment made to the city, in October, was the July payment. The first six payments ranged from $125,586.12 to $154,443.29.
• The infrastructure sales tax payment received last month was for July. The first six payments of this year ranged from $40,787.01 to $51,482.68.
• The telecommunications tax payment made in October was for July. Previous 2015 payments ranged from $1722.09 to $2,363.76.
• The last gaming revenues check came in June and represented the payment due in April. The state has received only two gaming revenue checks, for $11,298.47 and $11,515.71, since the start of the fiscal year on May 1. Last year, the city received $114,855.45 from the state as its share of local gaming revenues.
• The city last received an income tax check, for $116,887.44, in September. In the past three years, the city’s income tax payments from the state have each totaled more than $680,000.
• The last use tax payment received from the state was in August. In each of the past four years, the city’s share has been more than $100,000.
Gottman said that the state also owes the city $171,000 for water service to Vandalia Correctional Center and $33,000 for sewer service.
“It’s getting kind of scary throughout the state, not just in Vandalia, and it grows every day,” Gottman said about the state’s failure to meet its financial obligations.
“The revenues are just not coming in from the state,” he said.
Because of that, Gottman said, the city is having to work on reducing its expenses.
The mayor said that he met with City Clerk Peggy Bowen and City Treasurer Alyssa Matar earlier in the day to look at ways to cut back on spending, and that he met prior to the council meeting with Police Chief Jeff Ray and Public Works Director Marlin Filer for the same purpose.
“We’ve got to look at ways to reduce our costs without touching (laying off) our employees,” Gottman said. “I don’t want to go through layoffs.
“My concern is, how long is this going to go on,” he said.
“We don’t want to be like the state and not pay our bills,” Gottman said.
The city has some reserve funds, “but I don’t want to use all of our reserves,” he said.
Later in the meeting, the council approved for the public works department the purchase of an asphalt hot box from Paving Maintenance Supply, for $12,350, to replace a homemade piece of equipment that has been deemed unsafe.
But, Gottman removed from the agenda the proposed purchase of a tar melter for the public works department, saying that that purchase should be delayed because of the city’s current financial picture. Bids for the melter range from about $36,000 to about $49,000.
Filer pointed out that Paving Maintenance Supply was offering a low price for the melter if the city purchased both that and the hot box, and Gottman said that if the company decides not to stick with its bid for the melter, the city can purchase it from someone else.
In other action:
• Gottman reported that the Illinois Department of Transportation has given the city the authority to move forward with improvements on Main Street at the rail crossings at Fifth and Sixth streets.
Those improvements, including curbing, signage and road painting, will be undertaken as CSX Railroad makes upgrades at those crossings, including new crossing arms.
The city will be financially responsible only for the road painting, estimated to cost about $1,000. The balance of the work to be done by the city will be funded with money from the federal government, Gottman said.
• Gottman said that planning needs to get under way for the city’s 200th anniversary in 2019.
• The council OK’d a resolution ratifying Direct Energy’s acceptance of the low bid for providing the city with electrical energy.
• The council approved the purchase of a new effluent lift station pump for the city’s sewer plant, for $8,452,29, through Vandeventer Engineering. The new pump has a five-year warranty.
The council had the option of having the current pump rebuilt, at a cost of $7,515.84, but it would only have a one-year warranty.
• The council approved an ordinance allowing for the destruction of audio recordings under the guidelines set by the state’s Open Meeting Act.
• Gottman told aldermen that the city’s volunteer fire department would be replacing tires on some of the trucks, a decision made after a serious accident was avoided when a tire blew out.
The mayor said that a truck driven by Chief Keith Meadows was heading to Brownstown for mutual aid assistance when a front tire blew, causing damage to the truck and causing the potential for an accident.
“He (Meadows) could have rolled that truck,” Gottman said.
That incident made the city and fire department realize that the age of tires on some of the trucks, combined with the fact that they sit on trucks unused for considerable periods, warrants their replacement.
• During the public comment section of the meeting, Dennis Grubaugh asked if the city had considered combining the Vandalia Lions Club Halloween parade with the Harvest Festival, as a way of keeping visitors in town longer.
• Grubaugh, who owns buildings to the east of those that were recently demolished, and Carroll Haynes, who owns the building to the south of that area with his wife, Nedra, asked what the city was going to do with the now-exposed walls of their buildings.
“We’ve done what we’re doing on that property,” Gottman said. “We had to remove the buildings because they were unsafe. We didn’t tear anything up.”
Gottman said that the city has completed its work in that area, and that the building owners can apply for Tax Increment Financing assistance for any work on those walls.

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