City of Vandalia Mayor Ralph Kuda had to cast a tie-breaking vote to bid out the remaining remodeling needed at City Hall during the Board of Alderman meeting held last Tuesday inside the Lange Building.
According to city minutes, aldermen Dempsey Dixon and Bob Dunn voted “Aye” while aldermen John Weiser and Raymond Sutton voted “Nay.” Kuda then broke the tie as both aldermen Larry Holt and Gabe Jennings were not present for the meeting.
Before the vote, Mayor Kuda told the group that he requested this item on the agenda as he believed that the remodeling of the east side of City Hall should be bid out to a contractor. He indicated that City staff should be working on streets and not City Hall remodeling.
Council summaries from prior meetings were provided which relate to the remodeling project, beginning with the November 13, 2014 meeting. At that time, the council authorized proceeding with the project, and work was to be performed by city staff, contractors, and or temporary employees. At the September 8, 2015 meeting, an update was provided, listing progress on the west side of the remodeling project.
Commitment to Library/YMCA Project
Aldermen unanimously approved the City’s commitment to the Library/YMCA Project.
Interim City Administrator Debbie Hopke introduced Felicity Goodpasture-Culwell from the YMCA Steering Committee, Alan Winders from the Vandalia Recreation Association, and Roger Young from the Rual Morris Foundation.
Under the proposed Library/YMCA project, the Vandalia Recreation Corporation would own the building and the YMCA and the Library would be the tenants. The new building would be built on the same site that the Library currently occupies. The City would continue to own the land.
The current Library will need to be torn down, sidewalks installed, a parking surface prepared and paved, and trees could need to be trimmed and/or removed. In addition, there will be general maintenance of the grounds once the facility is built-snow removal, mowing, etc.
During general discussions with the Steering Committee, the City has indicated that as the project requires, any costs associated with the demolition of the current library would be paid by the City. In addition, since City staff has the knowledge and equipment for pouring sidewalks, paving surfaces, and trimming trees, those services would be available at no additional cost to the project. City costs for the above services could be paid from the Library Fund.
Other funding opportunities for the project, which would require council approval, will be reviewed during the budget process. Consideration and recommendations for additional funding opportunities would need to be made at the “best time” to maximize the return on any contribution as well as maximize the progress on the project.
LAGERS Retirement Benefits
Interim City Administrator Hopke told the group that agenda item was the necessary first step to make public the valuation received from LAGERS for changing the plan from an employee contributory basis to a noncontributory basis. The valuation report is available for public viewing upon request. Per LAGERS guidelines, no action can be taken for 45 days following the public acknowledgement, which will allow adequate time for meetings and discussion with City employees about the possible changes.
As approved during the 2015-2016 budget process, an increase in employee wages was budgeted, but deferred, to explore and discuss a possible change in the retirement plan with the employees.
According to the minutes, the City has received a valuation from LAGERS which allows for changing from a contributory plan to a noncontributory plan. There would be no change in the retirement benefit level. The next step is to provide information and examples to the employees, followed by a recommendation o the council. No decision was required at the meeting.
Discussion was held regarding the 2007 Impala as Interim Administrator Hopke told the group that Mayor Kuda requested this item to be on the agenda to open discussion on a possible change in the use/status of the 2007 Impala. This vehicle was provided to the City Administrator in the same capacity as the other department heads. With that position open, the vehicle is currently used by City employees for traveling to conferences and meetings to limit mileage payments and use of personal vehicles for City functions. After discussion, staff was directed to bring back costs for operation of the vehicle for last year and mileage costs.
Alderman Jennings, who wasn’t at the meeting, previously requested to have several items added to the agenda.
One topic included discussion on the abatement process.
Mayor Kuda addressed the group on the subject, asking City Attorney Amy Rost why the abatement process takes so long.
Attorney Rost explained that processes require notices and constitutional rights are protected. After tickets are issued, the process is in the municipal court system.
Alderman Jennings also requested to have discussion on the Chief of Police position.
Questions were asked about the process of hiring a Police Chief. Hopke added that some interviews are scheduled for Wednesday others will follow.
He also asked for discussion regarding the City Administrator position.
Discussion was held on how the board intends to interview applicants. Applications will be reviewed and rated before the next meeting, at which time interviews will be discussed.