By Steve Robinson | June 15, 2020 - 10:15 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

NORMAL – As a result of a unanimous vote by Normal Town Council members during their regularly-scheduled meeting Monday, Town residents who were most likely preparing for an increase in their water bills starting July 1 now won’t see that increase go into effect until Oct. 1. With a unanimous 7-0 vote, Council members, meeting remotely as a result of the current Coronavirus situation, approved delaying a proposed 2 percent increase in water rates. A proposed increase in sewer and garbage fees slated for that same date will still go into effect.

The Town had originally planned to increase the fees in April but postponed that until July as a result of any financial difficulties it would cause residents as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and postponing the increase from April to July has an impact on monies the Town would see coming in, City Manager Pam Reece explained to Council members during a session done remotely as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Delaying the taking in of fees between April and July caused the Town to lose taking in water revenues totaling $258,000, Reece explained. She said the Town’s water, sewer, and general funds were all impacted by that delay as a result.

Town Staff reported an estimated shortage in dollars coming in to the sewer fund of $76,000 and another shortage to the Town general fund of $134,000 as a result of postponing increasing proposed rate increases.

She added that since fiscal year 2015-16, the Town has invested over $18 million in its water fund for such expenditures as water main replacement, improvements to the Town’s water treatment plant, and acquiring new fire hydrants. “What we generate in revenue, we reinvest into the system,” she said.

Council Member Stan Nord told Reece he could not see the need to increase the fees on citizens who may be out of work due to the nation’s current financial situation brought on by businesses closing or cutting back on hours or staff as a result of the pandemic. Of the proposed increase, Nord told Reece, “I just think this is the wrong time and I do not see the need for it.”

Nord’s Comments Related To One Group’s Plans For One Normal Plaza Turn Into Heated Council Discussion: Nord informed Council members he had been contacted by a citizens group wishing to contribute opinions concerning the One Normal Plaza development. The Council is mulling a zoning change for that area brought about by a citizen’s request to establish a craft brewery.

Nord said Town officials and Council members discouraged interacting with the citizens’ group. He said he advised members of the group to reach out to Council members and Town staff before the item is placed on an agenda for a future Council session. He accused the Town and Council of giving the citizens’ group “unequal treatment,” adding the members of the group “should not be expected to know the inner workings of government, or who the right person is to be giving information.”

Nord’s comments touched off a reply from Council Member Chemberly Cummings, who resides in the area discussed. When asked, Cummings said, she will make time, including during working hours to meet with constituents, telling Nord he wasn’t the only member who meets with constituents. She told Nord she was “highly offended” by his comments.

Council Member Kathleen Lorenz said Nord’s comments “do nothing but cause division, with subjectivity and opinion, and very slim on fact.” She added she was not asked to attend the session, either. A former member of Normal Planning Commission, Lorenz added she respects the process NPC uses. She added Reece “does not create barriers in communication, and any accusations that would suggest that she would be a barrier in any way to Council members in communicating with citizens is categorically wrong. Categorically wrong.”

Technical Services Agreement With Planning Commission Approved: Council members unanimously approved execution of an agreement for technical services with the McLean County Planning Commission. The agreement between the two parties will run from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021 at a cost to the Town of $54,000.

Among the services MCRPC will provide to the Town include: Assistance with periodic updates of plans and ordinances that pertain to planning and development; And maintenance of a website to post statistical data, plans and studies, and other planning-related information to serve as a resource for local governments and the public. Such information would include the creation of a new Comprehensive Plan for Normal, zoning ordinances, and subdivision regulations as needed.

Final Plat For Garling Heights Subdivision Gets Conditional Approval: Council members unanimously approved the final plat for a resubdivision in the Garling Heights subdivision. Heartland Bank owns the 3 lots at the southwest corner of Ft. Jesse and Susan Drive and sought approval from the Town to resubdivide all three lots in a manner that would leave the bank’s building improvements on one lot leaving a second lot undeveloped which could be sold for development.

As a result of Council’s approval, the resubdivision will create a new lot that which can be readied for commercial development.

Agreement With Ecology Action Center Approved: Council members unanimously approved entering into an agreement with the Ecology Action Center with other local governing bodies for collection of household hazardous waste. Town funding for participating in this endeavor will cost the Town $25,000, and barring there being any other Town expenses associated with HHW, this agreement will result in an annual budget savings of $6,400. The Town joins the City of Bloomington and McLean County in participating in the program.

Per an agreement between the parties back in 2014, the Town Council authorized an intergovernmental agreement with the City of Bloomington, McLean County and the Ecology Action Center to administer and implement the HHW Program. This program, which is coordinated by the EAC, provides a biennial HHW collection event. Three collection events for the residents of McLean County have been held under this program in 2015, 2017 and the most recently last September.

Also as part of the 2014 agreement, costs for the program were split by the City, Town and County based on population. That meant the City’s contribution totaled 45 percent, or $31,500, the Town’s share totaled 31 percent, or $21,700, and the County’s share totaled 24 percent, or $16,800.

Renewal Of Microsoft Office Approved: Council members unanimously approved waiving of bids and authorizing renewing the Town’s subscription of Microsoft Office 365 computer program going through the State Joint Purchasing Program from CDW-Government, or CDW-G. The Town budgeted for a three-year contract for the purchase, at a cost of $69,345, $70,732, and $72,146 for year 1, year 2, and year 3 respectively, using additional funds provided by a Normal Public Library account at a cost of $5,150 per year.

Town Receives Grant For Tree Inventory: Council members unanimously approved an ordinance amending Town Code concerning trees and shrubs. The Town recently received a $15,000 grant from, which is working to meet a deadline to take stock of the location, species, size, condition, primary maintenance requirements and other tree management data. The tree inventory of the Town’s urban forest is currently being conducted by Kent, Ohio-based Davey Resource Group and will be completed later this month.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources through the Urban and Community Forestry program of the US Forest Service to fund the tree inventory. Council member unanimously passed an ordinance required of the tree ordinance amendment in order to fulfill a reimbursement request.

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

• Approval of the Minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of June 1, 2020.

• Report to Receive and File Town of Normal Expenditures for Payment as of June 10, 2020.

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