Members of the Benld City Council on Monday night voted to start the process of gathering information with an eye toward applying for a Housing and Urban Development Abandoned Properties grant to pay for demolishing dilapidated housing units in the city. Last week the City of Gillespie took a pass on seeking a grant under the same program citing the tight deadline for submitting the grant application. Applicants can seek grants of up to $75,000.
The council also voted unanimously to approve a Motor Fuel Tax Resolution authorizing expenditures of up to $70,000 from the Motor Fuel Tax Fund for this year’s street maintenance program. The Motor Fuel Tax Resolution is subject to approval by the Illinois Department of Transportation and sets the maximum amount the city can spend for street maintenance. HMG engineers estimate actual expenditures will be less than $67,000.
After several minutes of discussion, the council stopped short of actually applying for the HUD grant, but agreed to collect information in anticipation of applying if the city can make the Feb. 16 application deadline. Ald. Jim Tilashalski reported that this is the fifth round of grants under the program and that some municipalities, including Gillespie, have been reticent about applying because of the stringent deadline.
“If there’s not a lot of municipal interest in it,” Tilashalski said, “we might luck out on it.”
Appearing before the council via the Zoom remote meeting platform, former city alderman Peyton Bernot said he notified several current aldermen about the grant when the information was released on Jan. 6. Bernot said the application is fairly uncomplicated and city officials should be able to complete it before the deadline. He said he previously applied for the grant when he was an alderman, but the application was delayed in the mail and arrived one day after the deadline.
“This is the fifth round of grants and the funding for the Abandoned Properties program will expire in 2023,” Bernot said. “There may be another round, but no one knows that. I think it would be wise for the City of Benld to apply.”
“We would need council approval to send it in,” Mayor Jim Kelly said. “I say we go for it.”
“All the information we have to file is right here,” Tilashalski said. “I feel comfortable sitting down with our people and putting the data together.”
Ultimately, on a motion by Tilashalski, the council agreed to proceed with collecting information and preparing the application, which presumably will be submitted if the application can be completed prior to the deadline.
NO TO DUCKS
The council took no action after resident Dennis Conner addressed the council, also via Zoom, seeking permission to keep several ducks he currently maintains at his home. Current city ordinance allows residents to keep up to six hen chickens but does not authorize any other types of fowl.
“These are my kids’ pets,” Conner said. “They’re not loud, they’re not obnoxious and they don’t get out.”
Tilashalski, however, said neighbors had complained about noise or odor. He initially moved to not amend the city ordinance but withdrew his motion when City Attorney Rick Verticchio advised that no action was necessary.
Verticchio updated council members regarding legal action pending against several city properties deemed as public nuisances following a 20-minute executive session. The council did take formal action to approve a resolution authorizing Verticchio to pursue legal action against a property located at 301 West Central Avenue.
MAINTENANCE SHED BREAK-IN
Mayor Kelly reported that the city maintenance shed was burglarized over the weekend and a substantial amount of equipment was stolen. He said he did not want to discuss the break-in in detail because the incident is under investigation.
City Clerk Terri Koyne reported that this month’s water bills will be sent out with a notice advising that city utility accounts must be in the name of the occupant only. Water accounts for rental properties must be in the name of the tenant, not the owner, she said.
In other action, the council:
- approved a business license for Stan Morgan, doing business as Stan’s Barbershop, to be located at 210A East Central Avenue.
- approved an $850 contract with CorrPro Co. to perform the annual inspection of the city water tower, change light bulbs and apply corrosion preventative.