The Geneseo City Council met Tuesday night in regular session, called to order by Mayor Kathy Caroll-Duda at 6 pm. All council members were in attendance. After prayer and attendance, the report from Zack Sullivan of the Chamber of Commerce was given. He reported that the Chamber can now boast having over 200 members. The Geneseo Christmas Walk is scheduled for this upcoming weekend, December 14, and anticipates more than 5000 attendees.
The City Engineer's report was given, regarding the drainage ditch they had met with IDNR about as it affects the 50" pipe that is being replaced. All permits have been okayed, and the City expects to put the project out for bids sometime over the winter. Once the weather allows, Phase 1 should only take about 6 weeks to complete. Expectations by the City Engineer is that this phase should not be over budget, based on current findings.
During Public Comments, a proposition was made to have Hammond Henry Hospital open a Rehabilitation Center in Geneseo due to the legalization of cannabis in the state, opening the door to possible increases in substance abuse in the area.
The Treasurer's Report was given, and approved with a motion by Brett Barnhart (4th Ward) and second by Bob James (2nd Ward). Further housekeeping included approval of the Minutes of the November 26 meeting, approval of the schedule of 2019 meetings, and approval of the Omnibus consent agenda. Motion by Barnhart (4th Ward) second by Bob James (2nd Ward). All voted aye.
Approval of a $12M loan going forward for the sewer treatment plant, which would include upgrading out of date electrical, and replacement of three lift stations, was next on the Agenda. Councilman Barnhart referred to the process as, " a line of credit, we only borrow what we need, as the project goes on, we do not need to borrow it all at once." Motion to approve borrowing up to $12M was made by Martin Rothschild (3rd Ward) and second by Craig Arnold (1st Ward).
The issue of putting a referendum on the March 17 ballot to extend the Mayor and Councilmen terms to 4 years, as opposed to two, was next on the Agenda. The elections would eventually take place on odd years. Councilman Rothschild (3rd Ward) stated "we benefit ourselves by going to 4 year terms." He also cited familiarization with issues and procedures as the benefits of continuity. Bob Wachtel (2nd Ward) cautioned that going to 4 year terms may have unintended consequences and be out of line with public opinion. Sean Johnson (3rd Ward) stated that it was more imperative to look to the long term plan and that accountability was with the voters. Doug Crow (4th Ward) thought that the shorter terms made the council more accountable to the voters. City Administrator JoAnn Hollenkamp, cautioned that the cost of bringing in new people and training them had a very real financial cost. Sean Johnson ( 3rd Ward ) motioned and James (2nd Ward) seconded to place the referendum on the March ballot. Wachtel and Crow dissented.
Ancel Glink was approved for an open agreement with the City of $4,000 per month for legal services, excluding any that may arise from Litigation, Collective Bargaining and Planing & Development. Motion by Bob Wachtel (2nd Ward) and second by Craig Arnold (1st Ward).
Presentation of the Fiscal Year 2019 Audit was made. By statute, the audit must be approved by 12/31/19. In a statement of net position, the audit revealed that in the fiscal year pension funds were not fully funded due to decreased profitability in IMRF and police pension investments, both of which the City has no control over. The City has not had an increase in electric rates since 2006, and water has had 2% increases the last 2 years. Discussion revolved around looking at the current rates, and a possible rate study to be available for discussion in the January meeting, as a possible way to shore up the City's reserve balance. A suggestion to change the fiscal year to match the calendar year was also discussed. Recommendation based on the financial statements was made, with a motion to accept by Barnhart (4th Ward), and second by James (2nd Ward), with no dissenters.
Motion to pay the bills was made by Craig Arnold (1st Ward) and second by Brent Barnhart ( 4th Ward). Carried. No further public comments were made, and a motion to adjourn was made by Rothschild (3rd Ward) and second by Craig Arnold (1st Ward).