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  • Kent Casson

Water improvement study authorized

(Kevin Hannel of Farnsworth speaks to the Chenoa City Council Tuesday night)

A study on water system improvements was authorized by the Chenoa City Council Tuesday evening.

Kevin Hannel of Farnsworth has been in talks about the water system, especially during the issues of the past few weeks. Hannel reported other communities are applying for low-interest loans moving through EPA. This is just a project planning study effort to submit to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency for an application for loan money.

“This is still very low interest money,” explained Hannel. “They’ve also had what they call principal forgiveness money.”

The study is typically the first step in the process to eventually replace mains and address water issues. This is followed by a design phase.

Water and Sewer Commissioner Joe Moreland reminded the council they cannot do anything with EPA grants until a study like this is done.

“We’ve kicked this down the road way too long,” he said.

Mayor David Shane and others met with State Senator Tom Bennett about grants and loans and Shane discovered the city had a comprehensive plan in 2009.

Farnsworth is trying to expedite the study due to the recent water main breaks in town and it should be done in the next month.

“Usually, these things would take three to four months,” Hanel stated.

Money may not be received until the next funding cycle which is March 31 of next year although the city could be turning dirt next summer. The study cost is $28,500 and Hanel says water systems with lead service lines are getting “a lot of love” for funding currently.

Mayor Shane made the motion to approve the water project planning study.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, an ordinance was approved authorizing the execution of a Redevelopment Agreement by and between the City of Chenoa and Reliable Engineering, LLC. The city has the opportunity to review this if needed. Moreland made the motion for approval.

The second amendment to a TIF redevelopment agreement between the city and PuppyDo Transformations, LLC was also approved. This is due to the business moving to a different location in town. The original TIF agreement covered rent and some kennels.

“She’s already moved and busy,” said Shane.

A discussion was held on the water budget. Moreland would like some changes to streamline his portion of the budget. His department pays for two-thirds of equipment used even with other departments using the equipment.

“I think we all should be splitting even.”

Moreland pointed to roughly $20,000 of unbilled water for May and June, the majority of it being the swimming pool. He feels separating out water will give the city a clearer snapshot of how the department is doing. The mayor said he agreed and a future meeting with Treasurer Bryan Rowold is expected.

No vote was taken on updating the city employee handbook to add on-call person guidelines, although there was discussion. Moreland said a worker is on-call to do whatever the city needs during that time frame and it should be separated from what a commissioner wants done. Attorney Steve Mann will update the handbook and run the changes past the council.

Existing charges on current water bills was tabled to the next meeting. This is to address those who move away and don’t technically close their account. An unpaid account would be suspended with no more charges so the city is not chasing money it may not get anyway. Moreland said it is easier for the office to suspend an account rather than close it with the system they have currently.

The South Veto Street extension was approved by the council. Streets and Alley Commissioner Zack Lopeman helped work on a legal description of what the alley will be defined by. His recommendation was for the business district to pay for it.

During public comment, Marci Curtis thanked Lopeman for the fence around the hole in her yard but said her neighbor’s yard has one about twice as big. She once again shared concerns over this.

“We’ve got to do better, we have to,” said Curtis. “Something is going to happen to my child.”

Lopeman said they would put a piece of plywood over the hole with a barricade on it.

Commissioner J.E. Myers noted the city is getting ready to start work with the grant writer. Myers hopes to present information at the next meeting on cleanup ordinances for yards and weeds. Myers also wants to update the city’s comprehensive plan.

Lopeman reported crews have been busy picking-up brush, cleaning gutters, working on Seventh Street tile and putting culverts out.

Commissioner Dwayne Price said seeds have been planted in some dirt areas of parks and there is now ADA approved mulch. Price believes the pool will soon be open again after a day of work on it. He also noted Republic will pick up one large item from residents the first or second Monday of the month.

Moreland explained the clear tank floor is poured and he hopes the walls go up next week. Work is not done, but it is moving in the right direction.

The council entered executive session following the regular session around 7:35 p.m. although Mayor Shane did not expect action to result from it.

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