Jeff council okays 2019-20 budget, handles two downtown building matters

The Jefferson city council will decide at its March 26 meeting how to proceed with filling the vacancy on the council created by the resignation of Larry Teeples last week.

Mayor Craig Berry advised the council at its Tuesday meeting that the council must appoint someone by May 5 or decide to hold a special election to fill the vacancy. If the council appoints someone, that person would serve until the November general election. At that time, voters would elect someone to complete Teeples’ term, which expires at the end of 2021.

If the council appoints someone, voters can still call for a special election through a petition process. The council could also decide to hold a special election without first making an appointment. In either of those situations, the winner would serve until the end of 2021.

Berry said one man has approached him about being considered to fill the vacancy. The mayor said he’d prefer having a woman fill the vacancy to move toward gender balance.

There are currently no women on the council.

The council held a public hearing and approved the city budget for 2019-20 in 50 seconds.
The city council approved the purchase of 107 N. Chestnut St, formerly Air-Temp Plumbing, Heating and Cooling, from Roger Hoffman at a price of $6,600.

The council next approved an urban renewal amendment to provide funding for an economic development agreement with Hoffman for property he owns at 106 E. State. Hoffman rents the building Jen Badger for More Time and ShineOn Designs.

The agreement calls for the city to provide $35,000 as a grant, funded by TIF revenue, to replace the roof on the E. State St building. The city will coordinate and arrange for the roof.

Building/zoning officer Nick Sorensen and Badger told the council the roof leaks significantly, and said the development agreement a way to get a new roof “on a good building with a very good business that gives a lot back not only to our community but to the Paton-Churdan school district.”

He said putting a new roof on the building now would keep the building from requiring a $150,000 investment in the future like was needed on the building on the south side of the square that is now Sensibly Chic. “It’s going in there and being proactive as opposed to reactive,” he said.

He also told the council that the building on Chestnut St is very close to the same poor condition Sensibly Chic was in when the city took ownership. The first step on the building will be to replace the roof. Next will be repair of the façade. Funding will come from the city’s economic development fund. The goal is to make the building marketable and then sell it.

The council heard a presentation on the city’s property, liability and workers compensation insurance by Jim Unger and Scott Weber of Unger Insurance.

The city’s insurance bill will increase from $171,436 to $185,862 with the April 1 renewal.
Property insurance is increasing from $48,841 to $51,467 primarily due to adding the new wayfinding signage to the policy and increased property values.

Vehicle insurance is increasing from $23,121 to $25,997 with the addition of two vehicles. Once an out-of-use fire truck is sold, that rate will decrease some.

Unger reported “horrific loss issues” with the workers compensation insurance during the current policy year. Those losses affected this renewal less than they’ll affect the 2020 renewal because of the way the experience modification is calculated.

The renewal premium  is based on experience in the policy years starting April 1 of 2017, 2016, and 2015. Next year’s renewal will include the current year (starting April 1, 2018) and 2015 will not be considered. Unger put the council on notice to expect a larger increase a year from now.

The city also received a dividend of $27,019 from the EMC Insurance dividend pool. Unger said that is the largest dividend EMC has paid since the pool was initiated.

During the reports portion of the meeting, Berry said he and city staff have met about the update to the city website. The council at its Feb. 12 meeting approved a bid from Saltech Systems of Ames for $8,900 for the website redesign and $1,740 in annual fees.

A representative of Saltech spoke at the meeting but the company’s information was not provided to the council in advance of the meeting.

The other bidder, Websites to Impress of Illinois provided information for the council packet in advance of the meeting, but did not have a representative at the meeting. Websites to Impress submitted a bid of $4,930 for the redesign and $622 in annual fees.

City administrator Mike Palmer was not at the Feb. 12 meeting nor at the March 12 meeting. (Both absences were due to medical issues.) Berry explained that Palmer was concerned there was confusion when the council vote was taken and that he wants city staff to interview both companies.

At the Feb. 12 meeting council members Matt Wetrich, Larry Teeples and Harry Ahrenholtz voted for the motion to hire Saltech. Dave Sloan voted against the motion.

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