By Steve Robinson | March 4, 2019 - 10:51 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

NORMAL – As a means to help bolster reserves in the Town’s water fund, Normal Town Council members agreed by a 4-2 vote to approve a 2 percent increase in water rates at the governing body’s regular meeting Monday night. The vote took place with Mayor Chris Koos absent from the meeting. Council Members Kathleen Lorenz and Scott Preston voted in opposition to the ordinance which would increase the water rate. Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Fritzen, and Council Members Chemberly Cummings, R. C. McBride, and Kevin McCarthy voted in favor of the measure.

As a result of the vote, residents will be charged $6.57 per 1,000 gallons used, effective April 1. That is an increase of 13 cents. In addition, the system maintenance fee will also increase, from $5.87 per month to $5.99 per month. The increase will result in approximately $186,000 in additional revenue for the water fund from the average household. The Town estimates an average household uses 5,000 gallons resulting in an average of 77 cents in the monthly consumption cost, or $9.24 a month additional tacked onto residential bills.

But before the vote was taken, Lorenz said rather than increasing the cost of water on residents, she wanted Council members to consider pausing on the idea of increasing water rates when she feels the Town should have addressed other areas where prices could have been increased. She cited garbage collection fees and sewer rates could have been increased as an alternative to raising water rates.

Town Approves Budget For 2019-20: Council members unanimously approved the operations and capital investment budget for the Town for fiscal year 2019-20. At a public hearing before that vote, former Town Council candidate Ron Ulmer raised objections to the proposed budget. He questioned the Town wanting to approve the budget when he said notices the Town reduced the number of staff positions last year.

Regional Planning Commission Director Addresses Council: Vasu Gadhiraju, director of McLean County Regional Planning Commission gave a brief presentation to Council members to give an update on what the Commission has been doing in its efforts to find affordable housing in the Twin Cities. She recapped the results of a 2017 survey, the finding of which were incorporated into the Town’s Comprehensive Plan.

Among the results of the survey: County population growth slowed resulting in a reduced demand for housing; Housing in the county, the survey found, is generally overbuilt. According to the results of the survey, growth over the next 20 years can be handled using existing housing, or developments on already approved plans or where there are annexation agreements. Also she said, there are few housing options for the homeless. Added to that, she said, persons with mobility issues have limited options for the ability to live independently.

Omnibus Agenda Items Approved: Omnibus agenda items approved by the Council included:

• Approval of minutes of the regular meeting held Feb. 18, 2019.

• Approval of Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of Feb. 27, 2019.

• A resolution authorizing execution of an agreement with Mr. Craig Onsrud for the operation of the Ironwood Golf Course Pro Shop and private golf lessons.

• A resolution conditionally reapproving the final development plan for Phase 2 of the J&M PUD (Cottage Avenue and Village Court).

• A resolution authorizing the filing of Amendments #1 & #2 to the Town’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Five-Year Consolidated Plan.

• A resolution waiving the formal bidding process and authorizing a contract with J. Spencer Construction, LLC for the Replacement of Gutters and Fascia at the Normal Theater in the amount of $27,015.

• An ordinance authorizing the publication of a zoning map.

• A motion authorizing execution of a memorandum of understanding between the Town of Normal and the Ecology Action Center regarding the Solar Bloomington-Normal Program.

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