Plenty of discussion by council
Mayor David Shane reported he was still not ready to appoint someone to fill the vacant Commissioner Seat during Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Chenoa City Council.
The Council continues to investigate switching from a loan-based system to using a line of credit for city projects. A line of credit instead of a loan system can lower interest costs if adequately managed. Commissioner Zack Lopeman reviewed a list of potential questions that must be resolved with the State Bank of Graymont before the Council can vote on that change.
Commissioners voted to approve the Fire Department Cash Bash and the addition of Ann Householder to the Economic Commission.
J. E. Myers reported the status of the work being done with Blue Force Consulting for applying for federal government grant money for Chenoa infrastructure improvements. Commissioner Myers said Blue Force Consulting had identified the three best grants to apply for and the principal person at Blue Force Consulting was unhappy with the City because the second installment of $3,500 was not paid on time for the initial phase of the work.
Commissioner Zack Lopeman was surprised to learn about the issue of the second payment to Blue Force Consulting. He understood the City Council had only voted to approve $3,500 and not $7,000 for the project's initial phase. Myers argued the $7,000 total cost was clearly identified when the Council voted to approve the project. The Council members will review the contract signed with the consultant and discuss this issue further at the next meeting.
City Attorney Steve Mann was asked to draft a new ordinance, similar to the Zoning Board's past practice, that would pay members of all committees a stipend. The City Council would then have to vote on the new ordinance. The Council voted to approve Attorney Mann's recommended annual tax levies.
During the Public Comment portion of the meeting, a local citizen expressed frustration with the City's policies on fees for connecting to the city water system. She gave examples of people moving into Chenoa in the last few years who were charged different fees and deposits for having the water turned on.
Mayor Shane explained that in the last four years, Chenoa has had three different ordinances regarding fees and deposits charged for connecting to the public water system. In some cases, one year after paying the $100 deposit, the amount will be returned to the citizen and credited to the next water bill. In other cases, the $100 deposit will be returned once the person closes the account with the City.
Another citizen asked when road work would be completed on Division Street. Mayor Shane replied the work has been delayed because it has to be scheduled with the railroad. Hopefully, the work will be completed in a few more weeks.
Another member of the public asked Shane why it is taking more than 30 days to fill the vacant commissioner position. The mayor said he has talked to many potential applicants, but none have been willing to take the job. Mayor Shane said the applicants will not take the position because they fear facing controversies from social media postings.
Another citizen asked why the City will not publicly release the results of a recent survey of Chenoa residents. Commissioner Myers said the results could not be released because survey respondents may have put their names on the survey. The citizen reported filing a FOI (Freedom of Information Request) and receiving a paper copy of the results. She plans on posting the results on Facebook since the City will not release the survey results.
Commissioner Lopeman expressed frustration because the Council had previously told the public the survey results would be released, and they have yet to be released. Lopeman was prepared to show the survey results to the meeting attendees. The Council decided to refrain from showing the results and to discuss the issue at a future meeting.