By Colleen Lehmann
Perhaps it was the relatively balmy weather outside, or precious few items on the agenda, but the Tuscola City Council meeting on Monday, March 10, 2014 was decidedly brief … just 20 minutes from the Pledge of Allegiance to close of session.
Garnering a small bit of discussion was the budget process currently underway. City Administrator Drew Hoel reported that committee meetings will be wrapping up this week, after which he and treasurer Alta Long will prepare a draft budget for review and discussion.
“We will hold a study session prior to our next council meeting (Monday, March 24) to review that draft budget in greater detail. Please feel free to stop in prior to that time and talk to us if you have further ideas or questions,” Hoel said.
Alderman Tim Hoey noted that at a recent budget committee meeting, Tuscola Police Chief Craig Hastings had mentioned additional storage space for TPD was needed, to house cars and other equipment. Asked to offer more detail at Monday night’s meeting, Hastings responded, “Space concerns have been raised for the TPD, and I suggested that if the Robinson building (Hog Wrench) is ever empty and unused, that might work out well for us. (City foreman) Denny Cruzan is also sorely in need of additional storage space, so if we could move some things in, the city could use our Quonset hut for their purposes.”
Hastings was quick to add that his suggestion should not be considered “if that building or any other one could be utilized for or by some other business and kept on the tax rolls; that would be great. I only thought of the possibility if there was a time when a city-owned building was sitting empty and possibly falling into disrepair.”
Both Hoel and Mayor Dan Kleiss suggested that doing some long-range planning with regard to public services facilities might be in order, to determine what exact square footage needs were there and how and when to best address them for a more long-term solution.
In a final word on the budget, Kleiss told council members, “Bring your wish lists to the table, but just remember there aren’t unlimited amounts of money to grant them all. I have great faith in this council, you’ve always had great ideas along with the sense of knowing we can’t do everything at once. So we bring the ideas, hear the plans, set goals, and move forward.”
Two other points of business were voted on prior to disbanding for the evening. Council members once again agreed to cede its private activity bonding authority to Eastern Illinois Economic Development Authority.
As Hoel explained, “As a home-rule community, each year we receive a portion of the state’s overall private activity bonding authority that we could assign to a potential business expansion or development. However, we have never in all those years had a project that would qualify, so rather than let that bonding authority revert back to the state, we have historically allowed EIEDA utilize it.”
The second action was voting to enter into an agreement with Central Illinois Public Transit Program for non-financial support of its program. CIPT was asking only that the City of Tuscola make referrals, share marketing information, and participate in planning discussions.
In other business the council:
•Approved payment of bills totaling $109,148.97.
•Approved a Community Building lease with alcohol request from Becky’s Buddies for a Trivia Night fundraiser on April 5.
•Approved a request for use of Ervin Park for Cub Scout day camp June 16-20.
•Learned that PMG Tuscola and Bruce and Andrea Robinson were on the TIF delinquency list.
•Adjourned at 7:50 p.m. until the next regularly scheduled meeting on Mon., March 24, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall. A study session at 7 p.m. will be held to discuss the FY 2015 budget.