Recycling vote coming in two weeks

The Vandalia City Council could be voting on a water bill surcharge for recycling in two weeks.
Mayor Rick Gottman said at Monday’s city council meeting that results from a survey on the proposed monthly surcharge of $1.25 that ended on Sunday evening “have been collected.
“We will have a full report at the next (council) meeting (on Monday, June 19) to be acted on.”
Local residents had 11 days to vote on that survey, with city water customers being asked whether they would be willing to have a $1.25 monthly surcharge added to their  bills to help support the two local recycling programs.
Residents had the opportunity to either vote online or cast paper ballots available at several locations.
The surcharge was proposed during a meeting of the council’s cemetery and landfill committee in April.
During that meeting, FAYCO Enterprises Executive Director Kim Taylor told city officials that without some financial support, the sheltered workshop would have to discontinue its recycling operations.
Karen Sanders of the Fayette County Soil and Water Conservation District also said that the district needs funds to support its operations due to the fact that not all who use the service pay the requested $5 fee.
FAYCO accepts recyclable items such as magazines, newspapers, cardboard, plastic, and steel and aluminum cans at 2022 Wagner St., and the SWCD office accepts electronic items such as televisions and computers on Wednesday afternoons at its office at Third and Johnson streets in Vandalia.
At Monday’s meeting, Alderman Ken Hubler, chairman of the cemetery and landfill committee, read a statement he had prepared to explain his support for a surcharge.
“Let’s review a few of the benefits and savings these facilities have given to you in our community, even if you haven’t ever used them,” Hubler said.
By offering recycling, he said, FAYCO has helped to cut the amount of garbage collected and, thus, helped to keep residents’ garbage collection bills from increasing in recent years.
If the program is discontinued, Hubler said, more garbage will be going into landfills, and residents could see the cost of garbage collection increase, due to the need of hauling garbage to landfills further away.
If the electronic recycling is discontinued, residents will be “driving miles and miles to find a facility, most likely having to pay for it (disposal) anyway.”
Those who dispose of electronic items illegally by throwing them into a dumpster or ditch, Hubler said, “will be shifting the financial burden of disposing of it to the city.”
If residents are not willing to support the recycling programs, they might be gone forever, he said.
“Once they’re gone, we may never get them back,” Hubler said.
Also at Monday’s meeting, the council, after hearing from its legal counsel, delayed a vote on transferring ownership of a motorcycle seized by city police.
In September 2015, a 2000 Harley-Davidson motorcycle was involved in a traffic stop and impounded. Since that time, Kelly’s Auto Repair and Towing has stored the motorcycle.
The defendant in the case pled guilty on May 5, and the motorcycle was forfeited to the Vandalia Police Department.
A contract states that the bill for towing and storage was $15,900, and Kelly’s waived the fees in exchange for possession of the motorcycle.
But Ryan Connor of Burnside, Johnston, Connor and Jensen, the city’s legal counsel, said, “I have a little bit of a problem with that.”
Connor told aldermen that Fayette County State’s Attorney Joshua Morrison “didn’t believe a fee could be charged for a seized vehicle.”
He also questioned why the motorcycle was stored by a business when the city has available storage space.
When they asked, aldermen were told that the city had not previously been receiving any monthly bills for storage.
In other action, the council approved three Tax Increment Financing grants:
• Bright Beginnings Preschool and Child Care, up to $5,850 for replacement of the roof of its facility at 128 N. Eighth St.
• Grubaugh Contracting, up to $32,040, to update parking and entrance to meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements at 114 S. Kennedy Blvd. and upgrade parking at 116 S. Kennedy Blvd.
During that vote, Hubler told Grubaugh that he “would appreciate if you would think about doing something with that wall,” referring to the wall on the building in the 500 block of West Gallatin Street that was exposed when adjacent buildings were demolished.
“It makes me sick just driving by it anymore,” Hubler said.
• Wehrle Properties, up to $14,165 for roof work and exterior painting on the building at 1705 Veterans Ave. recently purchased from FAYCO Enterprises.
Also at Monday’s meeting:
• The council approved the transfer of Vandalia Lake lot No. 506 from Anthony Lach of Vandalia to Jeremy A. Embrich of Marissa.
• The council approved the bid of $12,250 from Behrends Sales and Service for two zero-turn mowers and a bagging system for the cemetery department, for use at cemeteries and Tourist Information Center.
Sloan Implement had the low bid, $11,870.26, but it was learned that the mowers being bid were not of commercial grade.
• The council approved the minutes of the May 15 meeting of the lake committee. At that meeting, the committee decided to “rewrite the city code requirements for the lake and make it a better, more descriptive and clear set of guidelines for the people out by the lake.”

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