Industrial Park Expansion Is A Step Closer -

Schroll said that the study's purpose was to evaluate potential contamination, archeological factors, utilities, wetlands and traffic for the site, along with providing an updated cost estimate.

The study found that there seemed to be no issues with IDNR, archeological factors or contamination, but some factors to consider came about in regards to wetlands, the waterway that is on the property, roads and utilities.

The waterway will be under the jurisdiction of the Army Corps of Engineers, who will have to be consulted if anything is done to disturb the area. Schroll said the plot also has one small wetland on it, but three others also exist on the 140 acres adjacent to the property, for which the city has a buying option.

In regard to the traffic study, the Illinois Department of Transportation found that areas of Rt. 16 would have to be widened and a right turn lane would need to be added for the intersection with I-55. Schroll noted that a traffic signal would also need to be added at some point, but probably not until phase two of the project.

Two of the utilities for the project, electricity and communication fiber, were not expected to be a problem, but there were issues with gas, water and sewer. The gas service will have to be extended from West Clinton Street, while the water lines will be extended from the current industrial park to the new area, then on to County Line Road for a future water sales proposal with Lake Ka-ho. Easements will have to be obtained to run the sewer, water and gas lines to the new areas.

The cost of extending those services helped increase the projected cost about 25 percent according to Schroll to $8.7 million for phase one, with phase two projected to cost $3.2 million.

Schroll added that to obtain necessary permits will probably take about a year and a half, while Ameren also estimated that running gas lines to the park would take a similar amount of time.

Alderman Ray Kellenberger asked about the cost of the turn lane and the widening of Rt. 16. Schroll said that it is usually the responsibility of the city, although there are some IDOT grants available. City Administrator Tonya Flannery said that the city would be meeting with IDOT on March 30 to discuss the matter.

Kellenberger also questioned whether potential businesses would have to wait a year and a half for the IEPA permit to clear if their drainage did not affect the waterway. Schroll said that moving in sooner was a possibility if the waterway wasn't affected.

City Budget Officer Levi Suhrenbrock would speak about the cash flow for the project, saying that the city would just increase the loan amount, which would begin in April 2019 and would be repaid over 10 years at three percent interest.

Suhrenbrock said that the projected cost of the industrial park did not take into account any grants that may be received and more money might be available for the project from the capital sales tax when the sewer plant is paid off in 2022.

He added that the goal is to build cash up from phase one as the city goes into phase two and said that the project is still feasible financially.

Paul Osborne, speaking on behalf of the Economic Development Committee, recommended to the council that the city finalize the purchase of the land and secure the financing for the project, with both motions passing unanimously.

Budget Matters

After working on the future of the city with the industrial park, the council turned its attention back to the present with the presentation of the 2017-18 and 2018-19 budget from Suhrenbrock.

Suhrenbrock said that the city has added to its reserves and that it now has 31.6 percent in reserves, about $1.8 million. The 2017-18 budget includes about $550,000 in lake improvements and an eight percent increase in the water and sewer rate. Despite this increase, Suhrenbrock said that the sewer fund continues to decline due to many capital expenditures and would be insolvent by the 2018-19 budget year.

This results in revenue pressures for the council in regard to the sewer and means the city will have to find ways to fund these projects.

Suhrenbrock said that the budget overall increased 6.2 percent, almost completely due to grants as traditional revenues stay stagnant and sales tax projections are expected to increase one percent.

A breakdown of each fund would be conducted during the meeting, with a motion to approve the ordinance adopting the budget passing unanimously after the presentation.

The complete 100-plus page budget report will be available to view at the Litchfield City Hall, with a public meeting set for 6:15 p.m. Thursday, April 6, before the regular council meeting.

Other Business

In other business, the council approved the purchase of water treatment chemicals from four different suppliers. Alderman Mark Brown asked if it would be more cost effective to get the chemicals from one source. Water Superintendent Ray Weller said that the city saves money by going through these suppliers and that some of the other companies don't carry all the necessary chemicals.

The other four motions passed by the council pertained to the property located at 1325 East Union Avenue. Wayne Rottinghaus and Marilyn Stone were petitioning the city to change the zoning of the property from A-1 agricultural to S-1 single family residential and to approve the final plat of the minor subdivision on the property.

The purpose of the minor subdivision is to allow the separate sale of two houses located on the property, since the proposed lots were all on one plat previously. The owners have a contract on one of the two lots.

Both ordinances passed unanimously, but the motion to waive the second reading resulted in some dissension. The landowners were requesting the waiver so they could move forward with the sale as soon as possible, according to Jay Adams, who was on hand to represent the owners.

Alderman Dwayne Gerl said that he had no problem with the proposal, but did not feel comfortable doing the second reading on the same night. Alderman David Hollo said that many other government bodies do not have the second reading, which is not required by the state, and said that he would like to do away with it.

Alderman Woodrow Street said that he did not want a situation where the second reading was waived, then the city regretted the decision. Alderman Gerl said that the city should either have the readings on two different nights or do away with the rule.

Gerl and Alderwoman Marilyn Sisson would vote against waiving the second reading of the zoning reclassification, while Gerl would also vote against waiving the second reading of the approval of the final plat. Both motions passed.

The meeting would adjourn at 8 p.m., with no closed session. The council will meet again at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 6, with the budget hearing scheduled for 6:15 p.m.

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