The Minonk City Council delayed a decision on whether or not to cut police hours back to 16 hours a day until next Monday night, March 27th. Meanwhile the council will meet tomorrow night, Tuesday, March 21st to discuss the police hours issue in the budget discussion. The council will then decide which direction they want to go in regards to police hours and then vote on it at the special meeting on March 27th so as to give the public time to give feedback to the council members.
The request for cutting back the police hours from 24 to 16 hours each day was requested by alderman Nick Caverra who said it would save the city money. Mr. Caverrea said all the surrounding communities like Toluca and Wenona have part time police protection. He said only larger cities can afford to have a full time police force. He said he has found that many of the residents in his ward want to move more money into the ambulance squad.
City Adminstrator Austin Edmondson gave the council a report showing that total costs in the police department would decrease from $349,075 to $273,511 if a 16 hour police coverage were to be instituted.
Alderman John Marcoline said he did a survey of his constituents and found 28 in favor of 24 hour protection, 2 in favor of 16 hours, 3 wanted more information, and 1 had no opinion. Mr Marcoline said it is his opinion that people want 24 hour protection and it is a dead issue at this point.
Alderman Russell Ruestman said the city has to avoid deficit spending and shouldn't increase the police department budget by $50,000 . He said the police hour issue should be resolved in the budget.
Alderman Marcoline said one of the reasons for the excessive overtime in the police department was because the city did not have police chief for several months. Alderman Ruestman said research should be done to see how many police calls occur between 2 and 6 am. He said if there are hardly any calls, it may justify having a 16 hour shift.
Alderman Mark McNamara said there needs to be an explanation for why the police department has so much overtime. He said people in his area want 24/7 coverage. He felt the budget deficit can be fixed by addressing the overtime situation.
Mayor Bill Koos said it was obvious a decision on police hours will not be resolved in tonight's meeting. He said the police hours will be discussed in the budget meeting tomorrow night, Tuesday, March 21st, where nothing is off the table as to where costs can be cut in order to come up with a balanced budget.
Revolving Loan for Pop's Sweet Shop
The council approved the granting of a loan from the Revolving Loan Fund for $27,000 to Fred and Frances Allen who are purchasing Pop's Sweet Shop. The loan will be at 3% payable in 15 years. The loan is in conjunction with a loan from the Minonk Community Bank for $45,000 and Owner Equity of $18,000 for a total of $90,000.
The Allen's and their daughter wil keep a similar menu of specialty drinks, desserts and deli sandwiches. Their goal is to retain the current customer base as well as grow the business through increased marketing, especially social media. Existing employees will also be kept to ensure the quality.
The city debated on how to handle the 'cupcake' law that covers those who make and sell food from their home. Amy Rossman, who formerly ran Pop's Sweet Shop, wants to sell baked goods out of her home. In order to do so, the city would have to pass a "cupcake" ordinance that provides rules and regulations for such an operation. However, her home would have to be inspected by the local health department which would be within the jurisdiction of the Woodford County Health Department since the city has no health department. Woodford County indicated they do not support the home kitchen 'cupcake' ordinance due to lack of training and registration which meant the City's ordinance would be ineffective.
Alderman Ruestman asked City Administrator Edmonson to get a yes or no answer from the city attorney as to whether the city's ordinance would be effective and enforceable without a health department.
Radio Dispatch Problems
City Adminstrator Edmonson said the radio communications from the County to the ambulance and police departments are being dropped and the city is using a backup receiver. Mr. Edmonson said the problem is the line between Eureka and Minonk and Frontier Communications is working on the problem.
Mayor Koos said the City was forced to spend $35,000 5 years ago to solve the radio communications problem using a new technology called narrow banding. He said he wants to have a meeting with the Woodford County Board to resolve this issue.
In other business,City Administrator Austin Edmondson said work on the Elm Court Sewer project has been delayed due to inclement weather but the project is still on a go basis.
Mr. Edmondson said in the Budget Report Review the Sewer Fund has a positive balance of $68,000 but the Ambulance Fund has a deficit of $38,000 due not to any increase in rate of expenditure but due to a lack of revenue.
Mr. Edmonson said a solicitor came to town last week to request a solicitors license from the city. When told the license would be $250 plus $50 for each person, the solicitor politely declined.
Alderman Larry Fortner said there is still an opening on the Parks and Recreation Board.
The new code enforcement procedure has been effective in the accountability of violations. Expect enforcement to increase as the spring weather approaches. There is ample time to correct violations without fines or court appearance and costs, as long as the correction is documented by the Police Department
We still currently have three juveniles and two adults needing to complete community service hours, which is managed by Minonk Police Department and Woodford County Probation. Please contact the Chief if any community service is needed.
Minonk PD continues to investigate our open cases and most recent residential burglaries, working with Woodford, LaSalle and Marshall Counties.
The community has been actively reporting any suspicious activity, which has helped with current cases, and even resulted with arrests In a couple incidents. We still urge the public to continue reporting any suspicious activity or vehicles in their neighborhood.
Thank you for your assistance with keeping our community safe.
Chief of Police