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City Council Alerted to School Building Issue

Monday, October 02, 2017 - Posted 9:33:09 PM
Fieldcrest Superintendent Dr. Dan Oakley told the Minonk City Council Monday night that the school building issue is coming up again and invited the council to attend a special school board meeting Oct, 11th at 6:30 pm to learn more about what decisions have to be made.   He said based on the school's Life Safety requirements the school may need to spend 20 to 30 million dollars in repairs, mostly to the school in Wenona and the high school in Minonk.  He said the big decision is to decide whether to build new or repair existing buildings.  He said tough decisions will need to be made and these decisions will not satisfy all people.  He said the school has until December of 2018 to commit to a plan to address the Life Safety requirements demanded by the State of Illinois.

Dr. Oakley said the school's enrollment has dropped by 150 students over the past 3 years and class sizes are also dropping.  He said $2000 is lost in state aid for each drop in student enrollment.  He also said Title-1 and Title-2 grants were probably also going to be dropped by the Federal government.  He said the declining enrollment has resulted in empty building space, staff reductions and fewer curricular and extra-curricular activities. Dr. Oakley said that while the financial picture is a lot better than just a few months ago, the school district is still likely going to have to look at overall expenditures and make some decisions over the next couple of years.

Reduction in Sewer Surcharge

Mayor Bill Koos said that due to a $200,000 grant from the State for upgrading the waste water treatment plant, the city is able to reduce the increase in sewer rates by 17% that were revised last month.  The new rates will help pay for the cost of the upgrade.  The Mayor said the new sewer surcharge rate is $4.39 for 2018, $6.59 for 2019-2023 and $8.79 for 2024.

Sewer Plant Concrete Disposal

Public Works Supervisor Cary Naas said he is seeking proposals from several contractors for removing the concrete waste at the sewer plant.  Mayor Koos said TIF 1 funds could help pay for the cost and hopes to have confirmed cost estimates at the next council meeting.

ComEd Energy Efficiency Program

Public Works Supervisor Cary Naas said ComEd's Energy Efficiency Program could result in the City paying only $2500 for a $20,000 project to upgrade the city's street lights.  The council approved the project which has a deadline date of December 30, 2017.

Residency Requirements

The council agreed to limit the requirement to living in Minonk to supervisors and department heads.  Mayor Koos said an ordinance will be prepared for a vote on the agreement at the next council session.

Tree Removal

Supervisor Jim Brown asked if the City would pay $500 to remove trees that are unable to be taken down by the city employees.  Mayor Koos said it would be best to bundle the request for the removal of several trees in order to get a better price.  

Supervisor Brown said ComEd will take down trees that are in danger of falling on electrical lines on both city and private property.  He said this could save the City $30,000 to $40,000 given the number of ash trees that will need to be removed.  He said the trees that have pink ribbons are marked for removal.

Mayor Koos said the council will have to decide on a tree program for replacing the trees that are taken down.  He said consideration must be given to water, electrical and sewer lines in the area when deciding on planting new trees.