Geneseo Council reviews pet ordinance, rates & refunds.

Staff Writer
Geneseo Republic
Geneseo Republic

The Geneseo City council met Tuesday August 25. It was the first trial run at livestreaming City Council meetings to accommodate residents who might be interested in participating. Meetings will be livestreamed from September on the City’s You Tube channel: Councilman Martin Rothschild was absent.

During Public Comments, several residents took an opportunity to take the floor and voice their opinion regarding the presence of chickens within the city limits. An overwhelming opinion of “no” was the consenus of the residents who attended. The Ordinance governing animals in the City was on the Agenda for the meeting.

Councilman Bob Wachtel took the opportunity during the Council comments to again thank the city workers who were involved in the expedient storm clean up. The Mayor also thanked the Electrical workers on behalf of the Mayor of Albany, IL, where they went after Geneseo was restored to assist in getting them up and running.

City Building Inspector Rick Mills brought in a presentation regarding suggested increased rates for building permits. The scale is based on the size of the project, and takes into consideration that the structure was last revisited in 1998, and has not been reviewed in 22 years. The proposed rates are a median of rates from surrounding communities and the Quad Cities. Councilman Craig Arnold proposed that the rate schedule be reviewed every 5 years, as the Council should have an obligation to review them. Bob James stated that “Just because you review the rates, doesn't mean they should be raised.” Keith Kennett drew attention to the fact these are infrequent costs. A Motion was made by Craig Arnold to adopt the new rate schedule, beginning January 2021, with a second by Brett Barnhart. Mayor Sean Johnson emphasized again the city needed to look at revenue sources other than the increase in rates on City services to residents.

The review of animals within the City ordinance was looked at. City Administrator Jo Hollenkamp made several suggested revisions to the existing code, including that hooved animals are not allowed. Highlights of the revised ordinance include a limit of 4 pets, cats or dogs, or combination per household.. Households with an excess of 4 domestic pets, will be grandfathered in, but not be allowed any additional until they are below the threshold of 4 pets. Keith Kennett moved that the ordinance be accepted with changes as discussed, and seconded by Bob Wachtel, and approved.

City Administrator brought to the attention of the Council, that utility deposits that have been on the books for many years are not refunded til a final bill is created. The policy in place is too stringent, and does not take into consideration that most residents pay their bills on time, and the deposit should be refunded. Proposal was made to refund the deposit after 24 months of timely utility payments was suggested. The deposit is to protect the City and landlords who may get stuck with unpaid utility bills when renters leave. Motion to approve the new refund policy was made by Barnhart and seconded by Arnold.

An amendment to the Employment residency provisions was also looked at. Currently 15-20 miles outside of the city limits is the distance for city employees to reside. This is to insure an adequate response time in the event of an event like the recent wind storm. Limit of 25 miles has been proposed, and is supported by Mayor Sean Johnson as a realistic distance. It opens the markets for applicants to encompass the Quad Cities. Possible increase in that limit to 30 miles, and the subject will be revisited. The motion to approve 25 miles was made by Wachtel, and seconded by Barnhart, Arnold was the dissenting vote.

The Council also looked at several parcels of land that could be deemed surplus, and sold to increase the reserves. One parcel in the D&H subdivision, and two smaller parcels at Prairie Park were designated as surplus and agreed to be sold. Oakwood Cemetery, which the City took ownership years ago, due to lack of upkeep, was discussed as possibly salable. Councilmen could not reach a consensus regarding the fate of the cemetery. Hollenkemp stated that the Cemetery Fund had only about 10 years to go before it would be bankrupt. The man hours spent mowing and trimming are outpacing the resources. Two properties on Spring Street were also discussed. The general consensus of the Council was to wait and see what happens with the proposed Depot before deciding to sell them. Motion to sell the Neptune St. and Prairie Park lots was made by Wachtel, and seconded by Arnold, with Keith Kennett abstaining.