On a motion by Ald. Tilashalski, seconded by Ald. Fletcher, the Benld City Council voted Monday night to formally “deactivate” the Benld Police Department—a final step in turning over police protection to the City of Gillespie. The deactivation is effective July 1.
“The reason we are deactivating is so, if in the future, Benld decides it wants a police department, all we have to do is get ahold of the state and the training people,” said Mayor Jim Kelly. If the city reactivated the police department, Kelly said the city would have to have a qualified Police Chief and an adequate number of patrol officers in place.
In a related matter, the council voted unanimously to advertise for applicants for a part-time ordinance enforcement officer. Earlier in the meeting, City Attorney Rick Verticchio advised that city aldermen also can initiate ordinance violation complaints, noting that ordinance violation forms are now available at the City Clerk’s Office.
Council members also agreed to sell surplus police equipment to the City of Gillespie for the Gillespie Police Department. Mayor Kelly said city officials negotiated with Gillespie officials to settle on a price totaling $7,100 for various pieces of equipment used by the soon-to-be-deactivated Benld Police Department. The list of equipment being transferred to Gillespie includes one police car, two light bars, several pieces of radio equipment and an evidence lockbox. The City of Benld is left with two police patrol cars that presumably will be declared surplus and sold at a later date or reassigned to be utilized by other city departments.
TUCKER SUBMITS RESIGNATION
Before adjourning, Mayor Kelly announced he had received a letter of resignation from Ald. Teresa Tucker, effective June 13. In her letter, Tucker said she was resigning from her seat due to “ongoing health issues.”
“It has been a pleasure serving the community,” she said, and she noted the council “has accomplished many great things.” She said she decided it was time to turn her seat over to someone else because she could “no longer give it my full attention.”
Tucker, representing Ward 1, has served two terms on the council, being re-elected in 2017. She served most recently as Chair of the Police Committee.
Kelly said he intends to appoint a replacement for Tucker, subject to approval by the council. The new alderman will serve until the end of Tucker’s current term, which ends in May 2021. If the appointee wishes to continue as alderman, he or she would have to stand for election to the seat in April 2021. Kelly asked aldermen to let him know of any qualified candidates who might be interested in being appointed to the vacated seat.
Also before adjourning, Kelly announced he is reappointing Verticchio as City Attorney and Ald. Fletcher as Mayor Pro-Tem. He also announced the appointment of himself, Fletcher and city resident Jack Burns to a Police Liaison Committee to maintain a liaison with the Gillespie Police Department. His committee assignments are virtually identical to current committee assignments, but Kelly acknowledged he will have to determine committee assignments for the new alderman once that appointment has been made.
Council members voted unanimously to approve an ordinance allowing the use of golf carts and other personal transportation vehicles on city-controlled streets. Vehicles must conform to provisions outlined in the ordinance. Golf carts, utility vehicles and side-by-sides are allowed but must be equipped with a steering wheel and lights. Motor size also is restricted and the vehicles must be capable of reaching a speed of 20 miles per hour within one mile, but cannot be capable of exceeding 50 miles per hour.
Persons who operate such vehicles on city streets must obtain a permit from the City Clerk’s Office. Permits are $50 for senior citizens and $100 for all other persons.
Because it is a state highway, golf carts and other personal vehicles cannot be operated on Central Avenue. However, such vehicles can cross the highway at designated locations. Crossing signs will be posted at Kentucky, Main and Sixth Streets.
Acting on an emergency basis, the council approved repairs to the Seipp Lift Station. Mayor Kelly reported that capacitors for the control panel recently blew, damaging the control panel. Additionally, one of the station’s two pumps failed.
On a motion by Ald. Fletcher, the council accepted the $33,850 bid of Vandaventer Engineering, St. Louis. Municipal Equipment, St. Louis, submitted a slightly lower bid of $29,560 but the council opted for the higher bid in part on the advice of HMG’s Vonder Haar. Vonder Haar said HMG has worked with both companies but leans toward Vandeventer when it comes to buying pumps and related equipment. Though slightly higher in price, the Vandeventer bid offered better value, according to Vonder Haar.
Mayor Kelly said Vanderventer’s bid is for a four-inch pump as opposed to a 3.5-inch pump proposed by Municipal Equipment. Additionally, the Vandeventer bid included lightning protection, a surge protector and other amenities not included in the Municipal Equipment bid.
In other action, the council:
- Approved a bid of $10,500 to $11,500 (depending upon the amount of wood underlayment that must be replaced) from Dynamic Roofing, Gillespie, to repair and replace the roof on the east side of the Civic Center building.
- Accepted a bid of $3,477 from HVAC Medic to replace an air conditioning unit at City Hall.
- Agreed to sell property recently donated to the city at 504 N. Main via sealed bid with the stipulation that the buyer either tear down or repair the property to code within six months of the purchase.
- Agreed to defer legal action against the property on North Fourth Street provided that the new owner continues to make monthly payments of $500 for five months to reimburse the city for legal costs it incurred in dealing with the property.
- Voted to declare a fire-damaged home at 408 South Main Street a public nuisance and pursue legal action to have the nuisance abated.
- Heard a report from Mayor Kelly indicating he was informed by Sen. Andy Manar that the city is in line to receive $500,000 in state funds for new sidewalks on Central Avenue once the Governor signs the legislation.