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By Carmen Ensinger
Carrollton City Council members met in regular session on Oct. 14 and discussed the need for hiring a consultant for the Illinois Connects Communities broadband grant the city received earlier this year.
On the agenda for action was a proposal from Columbia Telecommunications Corporation (CTC) Technology and Energy to hire a consultant to help with broadband needs and a plan for the city at a cost of $10,000.
A discussion was held by the finance committee at the finance meeting held prior to the council meeting about getting the services of a consultant free of charge.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Office of Broadband announced a new interactive Connect Illinois Broadband Map and creation of the Illinois Broadband Lab, a collaborative effort by the State of Illinois and its partners which include the University of Illinois and Illinois Innovation Network along with key stakeholders including Evanston based Benton Institute for Broadband and Society.
This entity will essentially provide the same service as a consultant which the city would have had to pay the $10,000 for. They will provide the community with new data on broadband data connectivity in their area, as well as an online speed test to identify gaps and tailor broadband planning efforts to boost access to high-speed internet service.
Alderman Larry Gillingham also gave a report on what the finance committee discussed about the use of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds the city received. The city received a total of $324,000.
“At our finance meeting, we decided there are some funds from the ARPA grant, $162,000 this year and another $162,000 next year that we thought we could use for work on our sewers, water and broadband,” Alderman Larry Gillingham said. “We have until December of 2024 to obligate those funds, so we have plenty of time to decide what to use them on.”
Gillingham also reported that the city received a one-percent discount on their property and liability insurance because they paid the bill in full before Nov. 19. Total amount of the bill was $86,521.58 after the discount.
Gillingham also said the city received an email from Dwight Reynolds at the U.S. Department of Agriculture saying that the city had the possibility of obtaining $1076.72 through a Rural Business Development Grant that is money left when developing a comprehensive plan.
A letter was also received from IEMA stating the city could apply for a $3,300 grant for COVID costs.
“The finance committee recommended that we not pursue this grant because it would not be fair and honest,” Gillingham said. “Because we would be getting reimbursed for something we had already been reimbursed for.”
The city received a letter from the Stanley Frech Trust with applications to apply for grants for the park and library. The grants need to be submitted by Nov. 12.
The council approved a bid from CK Power to service three generators – one at the water plant, one at the wells and one at the sewer plant. The city already does some of the maintenance on the generators but this service would cover what they can’t do.
Service for one year on each generator would be $1,496 or $4,488 for the three combined. Alderman Tim Reif asked Water Plant Supervisor if there would be any reduction in cost if the city took out a longer maintenance agreement with the company.
“If you do a three-year contract, they will guarantee the price at $1,496 per year for the three years of the contract,” Goans said. “The price will probably go up next year, however if you don’t lock in this price.”
Reif was concerned with one thing.
“With our new water plant getting ready to be built, will we be using these same generators and will this service plan be able to be used,” he asked.
Benton and Associates Representative Jaime Headon, who was at the meeting, said they are going to try to reuse the same generator they are using now at the new water plant when it goes online. With that knowledge, the council approved the three-year contract with CK Power at a cost of $4,488.
The council unanimously approved the appointment of Greg Pohlman to the Park Board. Reif asked who had resigned. Mayor Mike Snyder said no one had resigned and that the board had not been full in quite some time.
Gillingham suggested that the city take a poll of its residents on their feelings of the completion of the new highway.
“I know there are some mixed feelings about it,” he said. “Maybe the council should take a position based on public input. We should find out what people think.”
Reif said he has heard from several business owners about it.
“I have had several business owners say they are not ready for it,” he said. “They think people will just bypass Carrollton and not stop here.”
Gillingham also gave an update on the city website.
“I contacted a young man by the name of Lakyn Gardner who has a degree in web design and is getting another degree in cyber security and I asked him if he will make a template and meet with us and we can talk about what we might put on our new website,” he said. “We want something that is more informative and updated for the public to have access to. We hope to have something exciting for you. In the meantime, I invite you to look at the City of Breece’s website. Ours won’t be that fancy, but we would like something similar to that.”
A discussion was held on trick or treating dates this year.
“Last year, because of COVID, we had only one day of trick or treating,” Snyder said. “I’ve talked to quite a few people and the recommendation is to go back to two nights this year.
Trick or treating will be on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 30-31 from 6-8 p.m. at homes with porch lights on only. The Carrollton High School FBLA is having their trunk or treat at the high school on Saturday from 5-8 p.m. so this will go along in conjunction with their event.
Alderwoman Bernie Faul mentioned a trend that is taking place in some of the larger cities that Carrollton might want to consider in the future.
“The bigger cities are going to daytime trick or treating from like 3-5 p.m. to make it more safe for the kids,” she said. “It is easier for the police to watch out for the kids. It is just something to think about.”
However, there are some downfalls, as Alderman Reif pointed out.
“You have a lot of parents who are still at work at this time who won’t be able to take their kids out,” he said. “You also have a lot of people who work who won’t be home to hand out candy. Plus, how can you tell if the porch light is on during the day.”
A discussion was held on giving all employees, both full time and part time a Christmas bonus this year.
“The city gave Christmas bonuses from the time I started here until the late 90’s,” Snyder said. “They stopped because of budgetary issues, but that is money well spent when it comes to morale of your employees. I have always said that we have the best departments and they are really knocking it out right now. We think it is appropriate to reinstate the Christmas bonuses for our employees.”
The council tabled voting on it until next month to get an accurate county of how many full time and part time employees. Full time employees will get a $100 bonus and part-time a $50 bonus. All council members were in favor of the bonuses.