For nearly two years, the Witt City Council has attempted to make crucial changes to their employee handbook and have been met with unfortunate delays due to meeting unavailability for special sessions, as well as legal and internal municipal hurdles which include resignations of elected officials.

Add the resignation of city clerk Angel Lynch to the line of official resignations – which include former aldermen Jay Martin and Tim Taylor and former treasurer Rebecca Martin – as motivation for the council to complete the update of the employee handbook.

Lynch, who has been the city clerk since 2007, submitted her resignation in writing to the council as well as Mayor Greta Akers. Akers read the letter during the August 28 meeting. Lynch’s resignation becomes effective September 24.

The council discussed options in regards to taking action for the upcoming consolidated election, as Lynch’s resignation leaves a term with more than two years remaining.

Some options include re-establishing the city clerk’s salary and potentially establishing a separate position for water clerk (or whatever the position ends up being called) prior to the next election. The council approved the resignation after much discussion and set a committee hearing for September 11 for further discussion on how the council wants to move forward.

Envision Witt president Shannon Keiser presented the monthly Speedboy Hometown Spirit Award to David Martin. Martin, a senior at Greenville University, was recognized for winning the men’s decathlon during the National Christian College Athletic Association’s track and field championship, as well as securing All-American scholar-athlete honors from the university for the 2017-18 academic year.

Discussion took place regarding the treasurer’s report, inquiring as to why the balance for the motor fuel tax fund shows a balance of -$221,443.75. Akers noted that a check approved by the council in the July meeting to satisfy a reimbursement request from Prairie Engineers for railroad work completed a few months ago is currently on hold, pending receipt of funds from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). The final cost, confirmed by treasurer Sonia Hodson and as previously reported, was in the amount of $226,104.03 and upon receipt of IDOT funds, the check will be mailed out.

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In other business:

  • The meeting minutes from the July 24 meeting was approved.
  • Motions to approve the monthly bills, as well as the police and fire reports from departmental chiefs Scott Woods and Tom Rogers, were approved.
  • After discussion of the treasurer’s report, the report was approved with the provision of further explanation for the negative motor fuel tax fund balance.
  • City attorney Chris Sherer stated before the council that there are trials set regarding two properties and inquired as to how the council wants to proceed. In regards to resolutions, one of the properties has already been sold with the other still under current ownership. After considerable discussion, the council agreed to direct Sherer toward negotiating a plea bargain toward the property owner(s).
  • The council revisited the motion regarding forgiveness of sewer charges related to major water leaks presented to City Hall, which was agreed upon in the previous meeting. The previously approved motion allowed for forgiveness of said charges related to major water leaks which took place no earlier than January 2018. Revised motions to include filling and adding water to swimming pools, as well as changing the retroactive effective date from July 24, 2018 to May 1, 2018 – the beginning of the city’s fiscal year – were approved.
  • Akers asked the council if they should hold a fall trash cleanup and after brief discussion, the council opted against holding trash cleanup days for this fall.
  • Akers brought up the mowing of residential properties and the potential of placing municipal liens on properties that city employees are mowing. She will compile a list of properties the city is currently mowing, inquire as to whether invoices have been mailed out to the owners and report her findings to the council at the next meeting. Editor note: A municipal government can file a lien, specifically described as a municipal lien, on a property for non-payment for multiple services, including the cutting and removal of weeds, grass, trees and shrubbery, under 65 ILCS 5 of the Illinois Municipal Code. The citations under 65 ILCS 5/1, 65 ILCS 5/8 and ILCS 5/11 allow for such liens. This is only effective if the municipal government is actively mailing invoices to property owners. A key legal case describing such instance is Village of Arlington Heights v. Schroeder (328 N.E.2d 74, 28 Illinois Appellate 3d 1) from April 1975.
  • Water superintendent Stephen Bowers noted to the council that he currently uses an “app” to monitor the condition of the water tower as well as the water quality. Discussion on alternative options were placed on hold, while Akers contacts the water company about their software, as well as research other options, before presenting them at the next meeting.
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With additional business to discuss, the meeting adjourned with the next meeting set for September 25.

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Jake Leonard, a broadcast media and journalism veteran, is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. Leonard is also GM and program director of Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network and a contributing writer for My Sports Vote, Ambush Sports and Midwest Sports Network. He resides at home in Nokomis, Ill. with his dogs Sparky and Buster.

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