Members of the Benld City Council met behind closed doors for 30 minutes Monday night to discuss a possible contract to supply water to the city but ultimately took no action on the issue. An open session agenda item calling for a vote later in the meeting was tabled.
Mayor Jim Kelly and city aldermen were joined by City Attorney Rick Verticchio and Justin Vonder Haar, an engineer with HMG Engineers, which conducted a feasibility study regarding possible sources of water in lieu of continuing the city’s relationship with the Gillespie Water Department. Two options reportedly remain on the table: 1.) renegotiate the contract with Gillespie to supply water using existing infrastructure, or 2.) Enter into a contract with the City of Litchfield to supply water, which would require the construction of a water transmission line from Litchfield’s water treatment plant to Benld.
Two other options identified by HMG apparently have been rejected. Purchasing water from the City of Staunton reportedly has been determined to be impractical even though Staunton’s water treatment plant apparently has the capacity to supply satellite customers. Another option to extend a transmission line from the Village of Lake KaHo to Benld has also has been rejected. Lake KaHo will be purchasing water from Litchfield, but the transmission line to bring water to Lake KaHo is not large enough to also supply Benld’s water needs.
EMPLOYEE HEALTH INSURANCE
On a motion by Ald. Lance Cooper, the council voted unanimously to accept a new contract with Blue Cross-Blue Shield to provide health care coverage for city employees. Blue Cross-Blue Shield is the current health insurance provider for city employees,
The premium for the new contract is about six percent more expensive than last year’s contract. Per union contract, the city picks up the cost of health insurance coverage for its employees. Employees have an option to add dependents to their policies by picking up the difference in the cost. In recent years none of the city’s employees have exercised that option.
HAZARD MITIGATION PLAN
Council members voted unanimously to sign on as a participant in the county’s Hazard Mitigation Plan. The plan, developed by the Macoupin County Emergency Services and Disaster Administration, identifies specific hazard mitigation projects in the county, as well as plans for emergency responses to natural or man-made disasters. The document is a requirement of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as a condition of eligibility for federal funds related to hazard mitigation projects and disaster relief.
On the recommendation of Mayor Kelly, the council approved the re-appointment of Jerri Bayse, Don Chapman and Bev Gibson to the Frank Bertetti Benld Public Library Board of Trustees to serve terms of three years each.
TRICK OR TREAT HOURS
Council members voted unanimously to set Trick or Treating hours from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 30, and Thursday, Oct. 31.
Also during the relatively brief monthly meeting, Mayor Kelly announced the city is continuing to receive applications for a maintenance worker to fill a vacancy created by the recent resignation of Denny Gardner.
Kelly also took note of a recent incident of vandalism during which vandals broke a concrete flower pot planted with flowers in front of City Hall. He said police are investigating the incident and looking for witnesses.
“It’s a shame somebody felt like they wanted to do that just to be breaking a flower pot,” Kelly said.
Jerry Saracco of the Benld Italian-American Club, which provides the pots and flowers, said this is the third pot damaged by vandals in the last six months. “It’s getting expensive,” he said. The pots average a cost of about $300 each, he said.
Kelly also dispelled rumors that Benld’s water supply might be contaminated with lead. The rumors apparently sprang from a recent project to check possible lead levels in water at several homes in Benld. Kelly said the monitoring is required every three years with water samples taken from the same homes each time.
“The Facebook monster struck again,” Kelly said. “People were saying we shouldn’t drink the water or even take a bath in it. There’s nothing wrong with the water.”