Elias wants more on sewer bids

By JOHN REZANKA — News Reporter

Rather than move ahead with contract negotiations with low-bidder USFilter, Councilwoman Siobhan Elias has requested the city take a closer look at bids to operate the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

With that in mind, two items were added to the agenda for tonight’s Streator City Council meeting, which will begin at 7 p.m. downstairs in the community room at city hall.

Elias has requested the council review the request for proposals which companies received as well as the procedures for selecting finalists.

She contends that the committee which reviewed the proposals should have considered bids from all six firms rather than only three finalists.

Interim city manager Bruce Trego said the wastewater treatment plant committee decided to review bids from the three most qualified firms because their levels of expertise and resources were important considerations.

Elias has also requested the council give clear direction to Trego in regards to how to proceed with contract negotiations.

While three of five council members agreed during a workshop Wednesday that the city should proceed with negotiations with USFilter, the straw poll results did not represent an official council vote.

Elias has questioned whether the two bids were comparable in regard to the number of employees.

Since the request for proposals assumed that both companies would provide maintenance services at the pool, she also wants the council to consider the potential impact to the bids, as well as contract costs, if the city closes the municipal pool.

As is, the proposed 2004-05 budget calls for closing the municipal pool.

In another addition to the agenda, Elias has requested that the council establish an official policy regarding the mayor’s ability to make motions.

Up until recently, Mayor Ray Schmitt has refrained from making motions on action items. However, city attorney Steve Myers advised the mayor during a recent vote on imposing utility taxes that he did have the legal right to second a motion.

Both Elias and Schmitt moved in favor of the utility tax increases, so there is no disagreement over the outcome of the vote.

Elias said she does not necessarily object to the mayor seconding or even making motions, but she does want the council to clarify the procedures and make sure the utility tax vote was legal.

In other council business, Trego said he anticipates the council will approve a contract with Illinois and Municipal Employees Local 1592, the union which represents public works employees and dispatchers, after an executive session to discuss collective bargaining.

In other business, the council will consider:

• Issuing a notice of public hearing at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 7, regarding the exchange of real property within the city. In exchange for a permanent easement to run sewer lines to the northwest side of the city, the city would give Cobblestone Real Estate Development Inc. a parcel targeted for residential development. The city will not have to pay for the easement if it gives the owner the property off of the proposed detention pond off of Oakley Avenue, Trego explained.

• A Streator Plan Commission recommendation to approve a request to subdivide the former Anchor Glass property into three lots. Jerry Yendro of Chamlin Associates is acting on behalf of the petitioner, Lennar Partners of Miami Beach, Fla.

• Entering into a memorandum of understanding with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency making it clear that the restrictions of a recently approved groundwater ordinance also apply to the city.

• Authorizing the posting of two stop signs on Kent Street at its intersection with Wasson Street.

• Purchasing a 2004 Ford F150 Heritage pickup truck from Landmark Ford in Springfield, through a state purchasing plan, at a cost of $13,541. The public work’s vehicle will replace a 1982 pickup truck. It is a budgeted expense out of the city’s sewer operating fund.

• Entering into an agreement with the Norfolk Southern Corporation regarding improvements to the roadway and railroad crossing at East First Street.

• Directing the city attorney to prepare the documents needed to transfer ownership of the old Columbia Hotel site at the intersection of Hickory and Sterling streets to Bruce Township for use as a parking area.

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