By Steve Robinson | December 17, 2018 - 10:17 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

Regardless of a community’s political climate, any notion of a mayor and city council granting themselves a pay hike will strike residents of the community in one of two ways: One side will see it as a necessary step to continue to help those elected continue to do their job, even if a cash incentive isn’t why those elected serve, while another side will decry its necessity while pointing out a potential financial burden to the community.

And with an election coming for Normal Town Council members in April, some might think it dicey to try to pass any such action now. Yet, at Monday’s regularly-scheduled session held in Council Chambers on the fourth floor of Uptown Station, Council members did approve two ordinances – one granting a raise to Normal’s mayor beginning after being elected in 2021, and one granting a raise for those persons elected to Council after being elected in 2023.

Currently, Mayor Chris Koos earns $18,000 annually for the job. That amount was approved in 2009, boosting the pay up from $10,000 annually. As a result of the vote on the ordinance Monday, whoever runs and wins the mayoral post will be paid an annual sum of $32,000, effective May 1, 2021. The second ordinance passed would see Council members’ annual pay jump from $4,800 to $6,800, effective May 1, 2023.

In fact, the final figures approved by Council members for both Mayoral and Council pay saw amendments proposed by one Council member who is not seeking re-election in the spring. Prior to voting on the ordinances, Jeff Fritzen proposed an amendment to each ordinance lowering the amount of annual pay proposed. In the case of Mayoral pay, he proposed only bumping it to $25,000, and lowering the Council offering to $6,000.

Both of those suggested amendments were defeated – the mayoral pay reduction by a 4-2 count, with Council Members Kevin McCarthy and Fritzen voting for its passage, while Koos, and Council Members R. C. McBride, Kathleen Lorenz, and Chemberly Cummings voted it down. Council Member Scott Preston was not present at the meeting. Fritzen’s other suggested amendment, to cap an increase in Council members’ pay at an annual $6,000, failed on a 5-1 vote, with Fritzen being the only member favoring it.

Voting on the original Mayoral pay raise to $32,000 annually passed by a 4-2 vote, with Fritzen and Lorenz voting against it. Voting on the original Council members’ pay hike also passed by a 4-2 count, with Lorenz and McBride voting against it.

Both the public and Council members had their say during the session. Andy Shirk, president of Beer Nuts, Inc., told Council members he supported the increase because “I believe the Mayor and the Council are under-compensated due to the time commitment and personal financial burdens placed on each of you for you to serve our town.”

Former Council candidate Ron Ulmer expressed the opinion the Council should consider passing term limits laws for all of its elected offices and appointed boards. Doing that, he said, would reduce any financial burden on the Town. “I do not any longer vote for anyone who has held the same elected office for 12 years or more. I urge Normal to lead the way to vote for term limits.”

Former Normal Mayoral Candidate Marc Tiritilli told Council members some citizens do not see all of the functions Council members attend as being defined as essential to the post, citing marching in parades as an example. “If we can justify that there has been a significant step-by-step increase in duties, then great,” Tiritilli said, adding, “Personally, I haven’t seen it. If this is a 40-hour plus position, then let’s make it a full-time job. But I need to see the justification for why the pay has to go up so much.”

New Fire Station Land Rezoned: Council members unanimously and without discussion voted to approve rezoning land at the corner of N. Main St. and S. University on which the Town’s new fire station and headquarters is located. As a result of the vote, the land will now be rezoned S-2 Public Lands and Institutions from its previous designation of B-1 General Business.

In 2017, the Town and Illinois State University used a land swap so the new fire station could be build on properties previously addressed as 602, 604, 606, and 608 S. Main St., and portions of 601 and 603 S. University St. On Dec. 6, a public hearing was held by Normal Planning Commission but no one spoke at that hearing. Commission members voted 6-0 to pass the rezoning request which was sent to the Council to receive final approval.

Community Investment Plan Approved: Council members unanimously approved a motion approving the Fiscal Year 2018-19 to Fiscal Year 2023-24 Community Investment Plan. Presented in a review to Council members by Town Finance Director Andrew Huhn, CIP is used by Town Council members prioritize capital investments.

CIP for FY 2018-19 through FY 2023-24 includes a total of 124 capital projects with an approximate cost spent on them of roughly $88.3 million. CIP also flags potential additional projects with a total cost to complete them during the period of $111.8 million. Those additional projects, however, are not being recommended during the six year period, Huhn explained.

Five categories CIP is spent on are public facilities, capital assets, developing transportation, development of parks and open space, and utility service. The amount of money sought to be spent during the five year period ending in 2024 is over $6 million less than was planned by the Town to be spent during 2018-2023 CIP.

Committee Appointments Announced: Fritzen announced a number of recommended appointments to a Board and a Committee before the session ended. He announced that Tracie Henry has been appointed to the Children’s Discovery Museum Board of Directors. Henry is an assistant executive director at Illinois High School Association. Henry is filling an open seat on the Board for a term that will expire on June 30, 2022.

Three new members were appointed to the Sister Cities Committee and were announced at this meeting. Patrick Clapper of Normal will join the committee. An employee of State Farm Insurance, Clapper formerly lived and worked in Japan and has been active in the Sister Cities Program. Hudson resident Sally Modine is employed by Normal-based Unit 5 School District, assigned to Kingsley Junior High School. In addition to her own involvement with Sister Cities, Modine’s son, Nicholas, participated in the Program’s Junior Ambassador exchange to Asahikawa. Ryan Apple, the third appointee to the committee, was himself an exchange student in the Junior Ambassador program. His grandmother also had served on the Sister Cities Committee. One of these three will fill a vacancy on the committee created by the departure of Toyoka Nishikara.

Convention And Visitors Bureau Bylaws Change Allows Appointments: As a result of Bloomington-Normal Area Convention and Visitors Bureau adopting a revised and updated set of bylaws, part of those bylaws allow for Normal’s mayor to appoint four board members to CVB. The four Koos appointed are: Migidi Tembo, general manager of Bloomington-Normal Marriott Hotel; Beth Whisman, cultural director for the Town; and Council Members Kathleen Lorenz and Kevin McCarthy.

Liquor Commission Approves License, Levies Fines: Serving in their capacity as Normal Local Liquor Commission, Council members approved a liquor license application for Kam Liquors, Inc., doing business as Budget Liquors at 200 S. Linden St . The establishment applied for a Class A (All Liquor – Off-Premises Consumption — Package).

Commission members voted unanimously to approve settlements with six establishments, the managers of which have all submitted guilty pleas and paid fines to the Town. Normal Catering, doing business as Bloomington-Normal Marriott, 201 Broadway, was fined $500 for what was a second offense in two years. The Town discovered the violation during a liquor audit on Sept. 20.

Also fined $500 for a second offense was also levied against Freedom Oil Co., 601 S. Main St . , for selling alcohol to a person under age 21, the result of a liquor audit on Nov. 5. This business has paid the fine.

Three other establishments saw settlements with the Town of their cases, as well. All three were fined $250, which as been paid. Highland Management Group LLC, doing business as Diamonds, furnished liquor to a person under age 21 during a liquor audit Sept. 20. This was the first offense for this establishment.

Freedom Oil Co., doing business as Freedom Oil Co., 601 S. Main St ., furnished liquor to a person under age 21 during that same audit. The Town fined the business $250 for what was a first offense in the last four years, and the fine has been paid.

Also fined as a result of the Sept. 20 audit was Schnuck’s Markets, Inc., doing business as Schnuck’s, 1750 Bradford Lane . The business sold alcohol to a person under age 21. Schnuck’s management was fined $250 which it has paid to the Town. This was a first offense for this store in 11 years.

Two other establishments were in the midst of negotiating a settlement with the Town when the Council agenda was released Dec. 14. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc., doing business as Chipotle Mexican Grill #1633, 701 S. Main St., was found to have furnished alcohol to a person under age 21. Settlement arrangements with the Town are in progress. The other establishment is Bradford Lane Italian Foods, LLC, doing business as Rosati’s Pizza of Normal, 1720 Bradford Lane , which was found to have furnished alcohol to a person under age 21. Rosati’s is also in working out settlement arrangements with the Town.

Omnibus Agenda Items Approved: Council members used an omnibus vote to approve the following agenda items:

• Approve the minutes of the Strategic Planning Session Oct. 18, 2018.

• Approve the minutes of the Strategic Planning Session Oct. 19, 2018.

• Approve the minutes of the Special Meeting Nov. 2, 2018.

• Approve the minutes of the Public Hearing Dec. 3, 2018.

• Approve the minutes of the Regular meeting Dec.3, 2018.

• A resolution waiving the formal bid process and authorizing the purchase of a 2018 Ford Explorer in the amount of $25,380 from Greenfield, Ill.-based Morrow Brothers Ford, Inc., an authorized vendor for the State of Illinois Joint Purchasing Program.

• A resolution authorizing the execution of an intergovernmental agreement with McLean County for centralized booking services.

• A resolution waiving the formal bidding process and executing an agreement with Chicago-based Redbox Workshop for design, fabrication, and installation of the ImagineAir exhibit at the Children’s Discovery Museum in an amount not to exceed $127,500.

• A motion extending the Diabetes Management Program for one year.

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