By Steve Robinson | December 16, 2019 - 10:02 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

NORMAL – An omnibus item on Normal Town Council’s agenda at the governing body’s regularly-scheduled meeting Monday drew comments after being pulled by one council member. It also was the subject of public comment, as well.

A resolution approving financial support of the COMPACT Workforce Development Program in the amount of $25,000 to help the program continue operating in 2020 drew questions from Council member Stan Nord who asked the item be pulled for discussion as well as from two residents who spoke during public comments.

Up until this resolution, the Town had not contributed funds toward this program since February 2018. Following the discussion concerning this matter, Council members unanimously voted to approve it.

During public comments regarding COMPACT, Normal resident Doug Fansler said he wanted to know how the Town found $25,000 to contribute to the program. Another resident, and former write-in Council candidate, Karl Sila, took issue with not being allowed to discuss items not on the evening’s agenda before making comment on the contribution to COMPACT.

Nord asked City Manager Pam Reece about the amount of money the Town keeps in reserve for items that crop up. Reece said she could not give him the exact dollar amount right then, but reminded the first term Council member the Town tries to maintain a 15 percent reserve of cash for expenditures.

Charlie Moore, Chief Executive Officer of McLean County Chamber of Commerce, told Council members the Chamber receives 42 percent of funding from the Town of Normal and 58 percent of it from the City of Bloomington.

Council Member Kevin McCarthy said the amount the Town provides “is amazingly small to charge for workforce development.”

Moore told Council members the Chamber has “an untapped number of potential employees and we use best practices to help keep students and the community engaged.”

A description of the COMPACT program put together by Town Staff explains COMPACT helps prepare individuals to obtain employment in careers currently and into the future so that individuals in McLean County can help “to have individuals and businesses in McLean County prosper.”

In 2018, Council approved funding of the COMPACT program by giving funding to the BN Advantage initiative in the amount of $67,000. Of that total, $25,000 was to be applied to workforce development, $10,000 to quality of life, and $32,000 applied for marketing. In February that year, Council applied $25,000 to McLean County Chamber of Commerce in support of the COMPACT workforce development program.

Moore added the COMPACT program “has an untapped number of potential employees and uses best practices to help keep students and the community engaged.”

Ordinance Amending Prompts Question From Nord: Another item on the omnibus agenda prompted Nord to ask a question concerning Town involvement. The ordinance in question amended a section of Town Code regarding prohibiting possession and use of cannabis, cannabis paraphernalia, and drug paraphernalia.

Nord inquired as to how preventing sale to minors was handled. Town Corporation Counsel Brian Day informed Nord regulation of cannabis is done through Illinois Department of Finance and Professional Regulation, which oversees the licensing of such operations. Council members voted unanimously to approve the ordinance.

Community Investment Plan Approved: Council members next heard about the Community Investment Plan from for fiscal year 2019-20 to FY 2024-25. Town officials say they use this document to prioritize major capital investments. Town Finance Director Andrew Huhn told Council members he and his staff were very proud of the document and that it involved spending of $95 million over a five year period.

Public Works Director Wayne Aldridge responded to a question from Council Member Kathleen Lorenz concerning funding for the proposed underpass project at Uptown Station which would be used to make going from one rail line to another easier for passengers. Aldrich reminded the Town received a $13 million grant from U.S. Department of Transportation for the project and that the Town itself would be spending a total of $650,000 of its own funds over a two-year period on the project.

On the subject of road repairs, Town Engineer Ryan Otto informed Council members the Town Public Works department coordinates such work with his department to determine repairs needed depending on severity found. Typically, he added, his staff does such repairs from mid-March through mid-November.

When it comes to pothole repair, Aldrich explained the Town tries to take care of major arteries first so as to try to head off needing to do a major repair later on. Council’s vote on CIP at this session was so it could be added to the Town’s overall budget when it comes up for a vote from the Council in January.

The vote on CIP was 6-1 approving with Nord as the lone opposing vote. Following the session, Nord said he didn’t want his vote on CIP to appear to indicate he was agreeing to spend money on, among other items proposed for the Town’s next budget, the Trail East Project. The Trail East Project is a proposed five-story mixed use building the Council approved in January which will be constructed on the east side of the Uptown Roundabout. Nord was not a Council member until his election in April.

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

• Approval of minutes of the regular Council meeting held Dec. 2, 2019.

• Report to receive and file Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of Dec. 11, 2019.

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

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