The Benld City Council voted unanimously Monday night to approve an appropriation ordinance totaling $1,235,728 to govern city expenditures during the current fiscal year. The new appropriation authorizes up to $212, 266 in additional expenditures over last year’s appropriation of 1,023,462.
Council members also voted to demolish the fire-damaged building that formerly housed Doggy’s Tavern at 301 East Central Avenue, contingent upon the city prevailing in Macoupin County Circuit Court in its petition to declare the structure a public nuisance on an emergency basis. City Attorney Rick Verticchio reported to the council that a hearing in the case is set for Thursday. The building was heavily damaged on May 14 in a fire that reportedly being investigated as suspected arson. Verticchio told the council last month that there are concerns that portions of the building are in danger of collapse, resulting in a threat to public safety.
The building was being offered for sale at the time of the fire. City officials have since had difficulty in discovering who actually owns the property at this time. The process for having a property adjudicated as a public nuisance normally requires notifying the owner and giving them 30 days to abate the nuisance. An emergency public nuisance order, however, does not require the city to determine ownership. If the court rules in favor of the city, city workers will be authorized to go onto the property and raze the damaged structure.
The action to authorize demolishing the building followed a 30-minute executive session with Verticchio to discuss litigation which presumably included discussion regarding the pending petition to have the property declared a public nuisance.
On a motion by Finance Committee Chair Lance Cooper, seconded by Ald. Mickey Robinson, the council voted unanimously to approve the $1.2 million appropriation ordinance to govern expenditures during the fiscal year that began May 1. Although the appropriation authorizes more than $200,000 in additional expenditures over last year’s appropriation, the city’s actual expenditures for the fiscal year may or may not reach that level.
The appropriation is not a formal budgetary document in that it merely establishes the maximum amount of money the city can spend for specific categories of expenditures. The lion’s share of elevated spending ceilings appears to be in the areas of Water and Sewer, each of which includes an additional $11,400 for capital outlays. The appropriation also authorizes up to $172,000 in expenditures from the Atrazine Fund to pay for engineering associated with planning for a new water line to bring water to Benld from Litchfield.
The new appropriation authorizes up to $526,778 in expenditures from the General Fund, compared with a $525,907 spending limit last year. Broken down by category, the appropriation authorizes up to $238,119 for the Police Department, compared with an appropriation of $249,444 last year. A total of $111,515 is appropriated for Maintenance, compared with $87,480 the previous year. For City Property, $75,030 is appropriated, compared with $67,326 last year. Up to $33,305 is appropriated for Maintenance, compared with $45,635 appropriated last year. Lesser General Fund appropriations include $18,000 for Legal Fees, $11,409f or Liability Insurance, $9,225 for Workers Compensation Insurance, $5,000 to pay for the annual Audit, $4,635 for Parks, $1,300 each for the Municipal Band and City Cemetery expenditures; $1,200 for Unemployment Insurance and $310 for the City Library.
Expenditures from Proprietary Funds are capped at $703,950, compared with $497,055 authorized last year. The appropriation for the Water Department is $484,225, compared with $268,730 appropriated last year. Sewer Department expenditures are capped at $107,725, compared with $116,825 last year. A total of $172,000 in expenditures are authorized from the Atrazine Fund. A total of $52,383 in expenditures are authorized from the Motor Fuel Tax Fund, compared with $51,980 appropriated last year, and $112,000 is appropriated for Trash Expenses.
The document approved Monday night includes a summary of the city’s projected financial position at the beginning and at the end of the current fiscal year. According to the document, the General Fund balance was $433,143 as of April 30. General Fund revenue during the fiscal year is projected at $528,293. If the city spends the entire $526,778 appropriated Monday night, the General Fund will end the fiscal year with a positive balance of $434,657.
Proprietary Funds began the fiscal year with a positive balance of $312,123.78, with projected revenue of $694,536. If the city spends the entire $703,950 Proprietary Fund appropriation, the fund will end the fiscal year with a balance of $310,709.
With a beginning balance of $44,803, projected revenue of $40,000 and projected expenditures of $52,383, the Motor Fuel Tax Fund is expected to end the year with a positive balance of $32,420.
The Atrazine Fund has a balance of $278,172 from a one-time settlement payment. With projected expenditures of $172,000, that fund would fall to $106,172 at the end of the fiscal year.
The council voted unanimously to spend $88,645 to purchase a new John Deere backhoe from Erb Equipment to replace a failing 17-year-old backhoe the city currently owns. The purchase contract includes a cage attachment to protect the operator and a four-foot scoop.
In January, the council narrowly rejected Mayor Jim Kelly’s recommendation to purchase a backhoe by employing an unusual parliamentary procedure. At that time, the council initially tied on a vote to purchase the unit and Mayor Kelly voted “yes” to break the tie. Then Ald. Peyton Bernot, who no longer serves on the council, urged Ald. Jim Tilashalski to recall his motion and call for a second vote. On reconsideration, the council voted 4-3 to reject the purchase.
In other action, the council:
- Agreed to make a monthly purchase of one case of water meters at a cost of $1,400 per month Schulte Supply, Edwardsville. Each case contains six meters which will be used to start replacing existing water meters. The new meters will allow the city to conduct remote meter reading using a handheld electronic device.
- Agreed to establish a price for selling rock to city residents from the city’s stockpile at $40 per scoop. The city had been selling rock at a cost of $20 per ton but discovered it was losing money because the scoop used to dispense rock holds up to two tons.
- Agreed to spend $3,160 to replenish the city’s stockpile of culverts.