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  • Kent Casson

Water issues surface at meeting

While Chenoa’s water and sewer commissioner considers the last couple of weeks difficult, he appreciates the efforts of multiple people working late to keep the town running.

“I think we are halfway under control,” Joe Moreland said during Tuesday night’s regular meeting of the Chenoa City Council, referring to the city’s recent water issues.

Several broken mains have resulted in boil orders and these were weak before, according to Moreland who said it will not be a quick fix.

“The only thing we have are main issues but it’s still pricey.”

Mayor David Shane noted before the city can apply for grants, they need to be able to address what needs to be replaced. Most of the main breaks have been on old lines. In fact, Shane predicts more breaks in the future.

Shane has been in contact with Congressman LaHood’s office which has given the city some places to look for help. The mayor has also been communicating with a representative from Governor J.B. Pritzker’s office who asked what they could do. Shane told them the city needs money and bottled water.

“The fact that we got the attention may be huge for us getting money in the future,” noted Shane.

It may be a long process, but the city has plenty of places to look for grant money.

“We need to tell the story better,” observed Finance and Insurance Commissioner J.E. Myers.

Moreland explained the recent fiber installation in town actually had nothing to do with broken mains. He is blaming the drought.

“None of this is cheap but it has to get done,” added Moreland.

In another matter, Commissioner Zack Lopeman asked the city to draw up a formal proposal of what it would cost for a townwide storm sewer plan as he would like to have this in place.

“It gives us a plan to start moving forward,” explained Lopeman.

Mayor Shane reminded Lopeman that water is definitely the priority currently as there is no major drainage problem now.

Dalena Welkomer with Baird Capital appeared before the council to discuss refinancing the 2017 tax bond.

“You have a potential refinancing opportunity,” Welkomer said.

This is very similar to a mortgage refinancing, where it is reissued at a lower interest rate. It often makes more sense to bid this out to banks.

“We can include local banks in that bidding process to make sure they have a chance to participate.”

They propose what is called a private placement. The idea is to lower interest rates and the annual cost. Baird will prepare a sheet with all of the details.

“This would only require one action by the city council,” added Welkomer.

Ed Straw requested funds for the 36th annual Children’s Memorial Fishing Derby at Silliman Lake to be held Aug. 27. It is for kids ages five to 16 with food and drinks for all. They are looking for prize donations which can be sent to Box 34 in Chenoa. The council decided to donate $200.

An ordinance amending the Hotel Operator’s Occupation Tax Ordinance to provide for increased tax use was approved. This is an increase from three to five percent which is allowed by the state and another half percent for a business district. It can only go to tourism.

Mayor Shane brought up expectations of the Economic Development Council. The group has been working on TIF issues but Shane would like an inventory of real estate property that is available.

“If they can do it, I think it’s a good idea,” stated Commissioner Moreland.

A discussion took place regarding sewer, drainage, garbage and surcharges on an address without an active water account. The city has had a few different ordinances and whatever one was in place at the time is what that resident’s guidelines are. City Clerk Alicia Rhoades called it a “work in progress.” Shane wants something written-up for the next meeting.

During public comment, concerns were raised over the condition of some uptown buildings. The mayor said there are ordinances on dangerous buildings they need to look at and there is money available for beautification. This would be through a façade grant.

“If the owner wants to fix it up, we have money available in TIF,” said Shane.

Also during the public comments, praise was given to the water department for the late hours workers have been putting in.

Commissioner Dwayne Price reported new soap dispensers are at the park and new flags will be put up before the Fourth of July. The football field restrooms are ready to go for the upcoming Fourth celebration and youth football season.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the Chenoa City Council:

-Appointed Keenan Wilson to the Economic Development Committee.

-Rezoned certain real estate in Crossroads of Chenoa Subdivision in the city.

-Approved minutes of the regular June 13 meeting, minutes of the June 13 executive session and the special meeting from May 31.

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