Mt. Vernon City Council met September 5
Mt. Vernon City Council met September 5.
Here is the minutes as provided by the council:
The Mt. Vernon City Council held a Regular City Council Meeting on Tuesday, September 5, 2017 at
7:00 p.m. at the Rolland W. Lewis Community Building, Veterans Park, 800 South 27th Street, Mt.
Mayor John Lewis called the meeting to order.
Randy Winn with the Jefferson County Ministerial Alliance gave the Invocation.
The Pledge of Allegiance was recited.
Roll call showed present: Council Member Jeff May, Council Member Donte Moore, Council
Member Jim Rippy, Council Member Mike Young, and Mayor John Lewis.
Presentation of Journals
The Journals for August 1, 2017 City Council Workshop, August 21, 2017 Regular City Council
Meeting, and the Executive Sessions held on September 6, 2016, February 6, 2017, February 21,
2017, and April 19, 2017 were presented to Council for any additions, deletions or corrections.
Council Member Donte Moore motioned to approve the Journals as presented. Seconded by
Council Member Mike Young. Yeas: May, Moore, Rippy, Young, and Lewis.
Visitors/Citizen Requests/Addresses from the Audience
Colleen Saxe spoke against leaf burning. She explained leaf burning causes COPD and asthma plus it
contains seven carcinogenics. She distributed a handout regarding the hazards of leaf burning.
Eva May Ferreria spoke in support of leaf burning. She explained that it is a burden to bag leaves
and many citizens are not physically capable of bagging leaves. She feels that mulching leaves is
worse for people with asthma.
Jamison Schulte spoke against leaf burning. She feels that five weeks of leaf burning is too much.
She asked that the Council consider a compromise and reduce the amount of time proposed for leaf
burning. The health needs of people should be considered instead of the convenience for the
Keith Ridgley spoke in favor of leaf burning. Leaf burning is an affordable way to get rid of leaves
especially for residents with large properties. Every year the leaves are a problem and the only way
they can get rid of them is to burn them in the ditches, otherwise their entire road floods. If the
ban is not lifted, he suggests that the City purchase a leaf vacuum or find another affordable way
for residents to get rid of the leaves.
Approval of Consolidated Vouchers for Accounts Payable
The Consolidated Vouchers for Accounts Payable were presented to Council for approval.
Council Member Jeff May motioned to approve the Consolidated Vouchers for Accounts Payable
in the amount of $943,353.87. Seconded by Council Member Mike Young. Yeas: May, Moore,
Rippy, Young, and Lewis.
Bids & Quotes
City Manager Mary Ellen Bechtel reported that on August 30, 2017, seven bids were opened for the
construction of roadways to serve the Mary Jane Chesley Industrial Park. The lowest responsive
responsible bidder was Baxmayer Construction in the amount of $3,397,043.05. Bechtel explained
that this is a $7 million project which includes improving 1,000 feet of Sparrow Lane from State
Route 15, the roadway through the Industrial Park, and improving the main entrance on Route 15.
After the bid is awarded, it will need approval from the State of Illinois and IEDG. The project is also
funded by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), IEDG, IDOT Truck Route Grant (TRAP),
and an EDA Grant. Council Member Jim Rippy asked how the City can justify spending over $3
million on a new road when the City has current infrastructure problems. Bechtel explained that
this is for a new industrial park and the City has a grant to fund 50% of the project. Rippy asked if
the City has anyone lined up for the industrial park. Bechtel said that the industrial park needs to
be built before the City can begin marketing the park. New businesses expect that the
infrastructure and roads be in place before making a commitment. This industrial park will provide
95 acres of prime industrial property for distribution or manufacturing. Council Member Jeff May
said that to bring in good jobs, the industrial park is needed. Council Member Donte Moore asked
what type of precautions are included in this bid. Bechtel explained that they have 154 days to
complete the construction after approval from the State. Once the project is started and if they go
over the 154 days, then liquidated damages apply. City Engineer Brad Ruble will keep track of the
154 days. Rippy asked what criteria is used in deciding on City projects and who makes those
decisions. Bechtel explained that a former City Council chose this project several years ago. Council
Member Jeff May stated that the City needs a strategic plan, but his position is not to walk away
from free grant money. Rippy stated that grant money comes from all taxpayers and before
projects are selected, more than one decision maker is needed.
Council Member Donte Moore motioned to accept the low bid from Baxmayer Construction in
the amount of $3,397,043.05 for the construction of roadways to serve the Mary Jane Chesley
Industrial Park. Seconded by Council Member Jeff May. Yeas: May, Moore, Young, and Lewis.
No report provided by City Manager.
Corporation Counsel Bill Howard presented for second reading, an Ordinance Vacating Part of South
Water Tower Place Drive. City Manager Mary Ellen Bechtel explained that when this road was
originally built, it was built as a cul-de-sac, then it was built as a through road but the cul-de-sac
part was never removed. The Greenwalt Construction is constructing a commercial building south
of the cul-de-sac and they would like to use part of the area for parking. The owners will do the
curbing and other improvements.
Council Member Donte Moore motioned to adopt Ordinance #2017-37, an Ordinance Vacating
Part of South Water Tower Place Drive. Seconded by Council Member Mike Young. Yeas: Moore,
Rippy, Young, and Lewis. Abstain: May.
Corporation Counsel Bill Howard presented for first reading, an Ordinance Amending Article 13,
Section 13.8 regarding Open Burning. City Manager Mary Ellen Bechtel explained that many
residents desire to burn their leaves and this Ordinance proposes to allow leaf burning during the
following periods: Monday through Sunday during each the second full week of April, the second
full week of May, the fourth full week of September, the second full week of October, and the
second full week of November each year. Mayor John Lewis requested that the section pertaining
to extending the leaf burning period, be removed. Lewis stated that if the City sets burning dates,
those will be the only dates for burning with no extensions. Due to public comments, Council
Member Jim Rippy feels that the proposed burning periods should be condensed as a compromise.
Council Member Jeff May has no objections to reducing the number of burning dates. Council
Member Donte Moore agreed to a compromise and explained that he is in favor of limited burning
periods because leaves and clippings enter the City’s storm sewers and cause serious flooding.
Moore suggested allowing two weeks in the fall and one week in the spring for burning. Council
Member Jeff May suggested reducing the number of days during the weeks such as Thursday
through Monday. Mayor Lewis feels that reducing the number of days during the weeks is unfair to
residents who work fluctuating days.
Charlie Heck stated that if the burning period is narrowed down, the City will have 17,000 residents
burning at the same time causing quite a smoke bomb. He said that if the leaves are wet then they
Richard Etienne foresees a problem when everyone burns wet leaves instead of being allowed to
burn leaves at their leisure.
Eva May Ferreria asked that the Council reduce the amount of time proposed for leaf burning and
use some common sense scheduling the burning periods.
Janetta Rightnower stated that she is not opposed to leaf burning, but five weeks is too long. She
hopes the Council finds alternatives that work for everyone.
Mayor John Lewis asked why there should be burning in the spring. Council Member Mike Young
explained that some leaves stay on trees after November.
Council Member Donte Moore explained that the City has considered purchasing a leaf vacuum, but
it works the best on curb and gutter streets. Mayor Lewis said that with a vacuum the residents
rake their leaves on the road and the leaves may remain for a week causing them to mold before
the vacuum can pick them up. First Reading was held.
Corporation Counsel Bill Howard presented for first reading, an Ordinance Declaring Property
Located at 117 N. 6th Street as Surplus. City Manager Mary Ellen Bechtel explained that if the
property is declared surplus, an individual has agreed to tear down the dilapidated structure at no
cost to the City. The individual would have until March 1, 2018 to tear down the structure. First
Reading was held.
Mayor John Lewis introduced Chairman Ray Botch to provide an update on the Public Utilities
Committee. The Committee was charged to bring the City’s utilities into the 21st Century. This has
resulted in many hours of research and many meetings to determine the best and most economical
plan for the utility customers. The Committee is investigating whether it would be more cost
effective to replace the 500,000-gallon Opdyke Water Storage Tower and the 150,000-gallon L & N
Water Storage Tower with one 750,000-gallon water storage tower. The Vernwood Water Storage
Tower needs major repair, too. A Water Modeling Study is underway to determine the feasibility.
Sewer Lift Station #14 needs to be replaced. Seven other City lift stations empty into #14.
Engineering has been underway for over a year. In the past two months, a major problem regarding
the discharge of Lift Stations #1 and #14 into the Sewer Treatment Plant’s Grit Chamber was
discovered. Clean up is estimated at $100,000. Based on the findings, the City may need to
lengthen Lift Station #1 and #14 Force Mains.
Seven water meter companies have been interviewed regarding automatic read water meters.
There are many different types of meters and they need to interface with the City’s computer
system. It is estimated that the automatic read water meters will cost between $2 million and $3.5
million. Soon, the Committee will ask Council’s permission to seek bids.
Six companies have been interviewed about conducting an Acoustic Leak Survey, a Pipeline
Condition Study, and a Sewer Main Condition Study. An Acoustic Leak Survey is needed to identify
unknown underground leaks. The cost of this study is less than $50,000 and will take less than 60
days. The Committee asks that the Council gives permission for this study.
A Pipeline Condition Study will assess the internal condition of the water mains as to thickness and
iron build up. This study costs about $6,000 per mile and the Committee is not recommending this
A Sewer Main Condition Study is necessary. This is done with a TV camera, smoke testing and dye
testing. The cost to study the entire city is estimated at $1,125,000. The Committee decided to
select known infiltration areas to test first.
Mr. Botch stated that the next challenge is to identify a funding source and prepare a detailed plan
of action using a 1.5% Illinois EPA Loan and pay as you go. The public is always invited to attend the
Public Utilities Committee Meetings and minutes are available in the City Clerk’s Office.
Council Member Jim Rippy gave an update on the reopening of 7th Street at the railroad crossing.
He said that the City met with Milano Railway Logistic Services and the railroads. The estimated cost
is $200,000 for gate and signal upgrades. The City will participate by assisting in grants for this
upgrade. The estimated cost to make the crossing serviceable and open 7th Street is $87,000. In
the interest of solving this problem, the City agreed to pay one-half of that cost.
Visitors/Citizen Requests/Addresses from the Audience
No comments were heard from the public.
No Executive Session was held.
Council Member Mike Young motioned to adjourn. Seconded by Council Member Donte Moore.
Yeas: May, Moore, Rippy, Young, and Lewis.
The meeting was adjourned at 7:58 p.m.