The Carmi City Council met Monday, July 21, 2014 at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Room of the Municipal Building, 225 East Main Street, Carmi, Illinois.
Prior to opening the council meeting, Mayor Pollard asked Alderman Steve Winkleman to give the invocation. The prayer was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
Mayor Pollard presided with the following Aldermen present: Steve Winkleman, Mark W. Blake, Keith Davis, Sheila Jo Headlee, Doug Hays, Jack Lamont and Mike Knight. Alderman Kenny Carter was absent due to a scheduled vacation.
Minutes for the July 7, 2014 council meeting were presented. Motion made by Alderman Lamont and seconded by Alderman Hays to approve the minutes as presented. The motion carried on roll call by each Alderman answering “yes.”
Mayor Pollard asked the council to approve the June 2014 Financial Reports for the City of Carmi and the Light & Water Departments. Motion made by Alderman Headlee and seconded by Alderman Winkleman to accept the June 2014 Financial Reports as presented. The motion carried on roll call by each Alderman answering “yes.”
Mayor Pollard asked the council to approve and authorize the July 2014 Vendor Invoices for the City of Carmi and the Light & Water Department. Motion was made by Alderman Winkleman and seconded by Alderman Davis to approve the July 2014 Vendor Invoices as presented. The motion carried on roll call by each Alderman answering “yes.”
Mayor Pollard introduced Dave Albin with Utility Pipe Sales to present a touch read probe and handheld computer for the meter reading system. Mr. Albin stated that the headquarters for Utility Pipe Sales is in Evansville, Indiana and that they have been around since the mid 1970’s. He said that the meter manufacturer they are partners with is Zenner USA and that Zenner is new to the US, but they have been manufacturing meters in Europe and nine (9) other countries since the 1920s. The reading probe manufacturer they work with is Northrup Grumman. This company manufactures the touch read probes, the hand-held computers, and the software that makes everything work with the billing software. Mr. Albin said that this system is pretty straight forward and easy to work with and that there are no issues with radio coverage. Mr. Albin quoted cost for user training, setup, and installation would be roughly thirteen thousand five hundred and seventy two ($13,572) dollars. The price per meter to buy a single unit would cost one hundred and twenty ($120) dollars for the radio and the meter. The cost for two hundred and fifty (250) units would come to one hundred and six ($106) dollars a unit. He then stated that the city would work directly with Northup Grumman and have a service agreement with them. He added this company is ninety seven (97) to one hundred and three (103) percent accurate on meter radios. Alderman Headlee asked how many meters the City of Carmi had in use. Mr. Albin answered that there are three thousand and three hundred (3,300) meters in use currently. He then told the council the advantages of this system which include keying errors, no lifting of lids, time savings, improves accuracy, helps identify leaks, and the meters are upgradable to a drive-by system or a fixed base system. The drive-by system start-up cost is twenty five thousand ($25,000) dollars and an additional cost of fifty ($50) to seventy five ($75) dollars per unit. He explained to the council that they could decide how many meters they want to put on at any time. An example of this would be, to do two hundred and fifty (250) now and two hundred and fifty (250) later. Alderman Lamont asked what areas were currently using this type of system.
Mr. Albin replied that they have German Township outside of Evansville, and Jasper, IN as well as a township over in Ohio and that they have several other possible customers that they are talking to right now. Alderman Davis asked how much an additional probe would cost. Mr. Albin answered that it would run about three thousand and one hundred ($3,100) dollars. Alderman Hays asked how long the meter battery life lasts and Mr. Albin replied thirteen (13) to fourteen (14) years. Mayor Pollard said that at this point he just wanted Mr. Albin to come to the council meeting so that everybody could get an idea of what the cost would be for this type of system.
Mayor Pollard then asked the council to consider the city yard waste facility contract because their contract is up. He noted that the contract is usually for four (4) years and that the usual cost is two hundred and seventy five ($275) dollars a month and that they want to up it to three hundred ($300) dollars a month. Alderman Winkleman asked how much room is at the site. Mayor Pollard and Alderman Blake both answered that there is plenty of room. Motion was made by Alderman Lamont and seconded by Alderman Davis to approve the city yard waste facility contract for three hundred ($300) dollars a month. The motion carried on roll call by each Alderman answering “yes.”
The council then received an update from City Electrical Engineer David Coston on the progress of the new SCADA system for the Municipal Light Plant. Mr. Coston informed the council that a lightning strike at the power plant got into the existing SCADA system. He said that they worked on it most of the week to see if they could get it working again and it got to the point to where they couldn’t even figure out what the problem was because there wasn’t enough documentation. He additionally added that because of this, they have accelerated the installation on the new SCADA system. The SCADA system monitors all of the sub-stations and electrical equipment in Carmi so that the circuit breakers and the feeders can feed electricity to all of the homes and businesses. He added that IMEA has been able to give updates for power usage since the lighting strike because currently the communication from sub-station to the power plant is down. This is important because it keeps the city from having to pay a lot more money for the amount of power being used. The breakers cannot be reset by the power plant and must be done manually. He stated that the system is still protected. Upgrades will make operations run smoother, they can get more information and on much quicker basis. Mr. Coston concluded by saying that it would take roughly three (3) to four (4) weeks to get the new equipment in place, in order to start getting everything back together again. Mayor Pollard commented that the upside to the downside is that they are keeping all the old equipment and going through it because they do have insurance on some of it, which will help offset some of the costs that they weren’t expecting when they budgeted for the new SCADA system.
Mr. Charles Preston addressed the council concerning AquaLine Water Protection. Mr. Preston came to Mayor Pollard and said that he was upset about the company and had some questions. Mr. Preston read a personal letter concerning AquaLine Water Protection. The letter stated that he and others in the room as veterans had fought for their freedom and their rights, he felt like his rights were being violated and he felt like he did not need to have to any insurance for his water line because he owns it. He then asked why the contract was kept a secret. Alderman Davis answered that it was not kept in secret because it was on the agenda and posted. Mr. Preston then asked if the city has a right to vote on this. City Attorney Greg Stewart said that yes they did. Mr. Preston then asked if the water customer has the right by law to be forced to say yes or no. Alderman Davis said that they aren’t forcing anyone to take the program and that the customers have the opportunity to take it or leave it. Mr. Preston also questioned what is to keep the company from filing bankruptcy. Mr. Ed Bates of AquaLine answered that twenty five (.25) cents will be paid every month and that he can’t guarantee that they will not go out of business because no one can guarantee that. Mr. Preston asked why AquaLine would not be making contact with every customer. Mr. Bates answered that it was impossible and not cost effective. Mr. Preston then questioned why the opt-in, opt-out was not put into the contract. Mr. Bates answered that the reason for the opt-out is simple; it gives customers the opportunity to get taken off the program and get their money back. Alderman Hays followed up by saying why the council voted the way they did. He noted there are people in town that do want the protection coverage and that the only way to get a guaranteed price on the cost of the service were to accept the contract. Alderman Hays also stated that the amount of people who wanted it out-weighed those who don’t and that it would only take a few minutes to call the office and get out of the program. Mr. Preston then asked who was contacted first in the City of Carmi by this company before the mayor knew about it. Mayor Pollard answered that it was former Mayor David Port. Mr. Preston questioned how many additional employees would need to be hired to run the program. Mayor Pollard stated that none would be hired, that the employees that were already there would take care of it. Light and Water office manager Pam Champion commented that they already have it arranged and taken care of. Mayor Pollard noted that AquaLine was supposed to start sending out cards this past weekend, but he put a hold on it because he knew this discussion was coming up. Mr. Bates said that the only thing they have done was advertise in the paper. Frank Elliot Jr. Foreman of the Water Wells and also serves on the Brownsville Water District board stated that he sees no downside to the program. Alderman Davis commented that at any time you can get out of the program, even one (1) or three (3) months into it. Mayor Pollard said that you just can’t get back in if you come home to a water leak. Alderman Davis stated that there would be an informational meeting about AquaLine and their protection this Wednesday night (July 23) at 6:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers and that if customers attended they could opt-out then. Mr. Preston asked the council if the contract had already been signed. Mayor Pollard said that yes it had been but that he has thirty (30) days to terminate it and it was not signed until City Attorney Greg Stewart approved the contract. Mr. Preston added that every city he knows of gives a little adjustment on water leaks and that he thinks the adjustment should just be left in place instead of using this protection company. Mayor Pollard said that the city has given forty three thousand six hundred and twenty four ($43,624) dollars and ninety one (.91) cents worth of leak adjustments in 2013-2014. Ron Winter commented that he wanted to opt-out. Mr. Preston ended by asking the council to cancel the contract and thanked everyone for their time. Mayor Pollard said that at this point it was up to the council to rethink it and discuss it. Alderman Davis commented that he was still in favor of it because of the fact that not many people have the money to fix a water leak themselves and that he thinks the city needs to stop making adjustments. Greg Brown asked when the last time the water rates were raised was. Frank Elliot Jr. answered four (4) years ago but, City Supervisor Mike Buckman said that it was in the 80s the last time they were raised. Alderman Davis asked everyone if they saw the value of the three ($3) dollars and seventy five (.75) cents to protect their water line. A few citizens in attendance answered that they did not see the value, with the majority remaining silent. Alderman Davis noted that all the council is trying to do is give the citizens the opportunity to be protected. Mayor Pollard then restated that it was up to the council to decide what to do next, whether to stay the same as two (2) weeks ago or change their minds. Alderman Winkleman commented that he doesn’t feel like the council needed to do anything, because it was already approved at the last meeting. City Attorney Greg Stewart agreed that it had already passed through the council and that they don’t have to vote on the issue again.
City Attorney Greg Stewart next discussed the Phoenix Foundation. Mr. Stewart said that he has been in contact with Lisa Maddigan and the non for profit audit division and has not heard a yes or a no on the audit, but the state does know about it. He then added that he spoke with a Phoenix affiliate and was told that the state has paid Phoenix and that they received some money. Four hundred thousand ($400,000) dollars was kept by the IRS and Phoenix has paid ninety thousand ($90,000) dollars in old utility bills this week out of a previous balance of one hundred twenty five thousand ($125,000). However, Phoenix has paid nothing toward the revolving loan fund. Mr. Stewart then stated that he has received no documentation to date. Phoenix administrator Lil Fortner did call him today (July 21) and said that she wanted to meet with him to give him paperwork.
Reports and/or updates from Mayor Pollard
Reports from Standing Committees
Alderman Knight stated that the pond work has stopped at Burrell Woods. Mayor Pollard said that he spoke with Allen Excavation today and that they are going to have a meeting tomorrow.
City Supervisor Mike Buckman stated that overgrown yards are being mowed and that the railroad crossing at 5th street will be repaired and will be closed from Tuesday to Thursday. First Street, Third Street, and Burrell Street will all be completed next. Motor Fuel Tax Projects bid opening will be August 12, 2014 at 9:00 a.m. in the council room. Mr. Buckman then read a thank you card from the school.
City Attorney Greg Stewart then stated that Illinois Department of Transportation would be allowing a pedestrian crossing at Burrell Street.
Business or Comments from Visitors
Citizen Richard Cook wanted to thank the gentlemen for coming in and fighting for their rights. He added that he hoped that next time liquor license or liquor ordinances came up on the agenda that everybody would come and fight for grown adults who want to sell and consume liquor in this community.
Motion made by Alderman Winkleman and seconded by Alderman Blake to adjourn. The motion carried on roll call by each alderman answering “yes.”
At 6: 53 p.m. the council adjourned.
Brian K. Allen, City Clerk
Jeff Pollard, Mayor