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The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

    Editorial Cartoon: The violence of inaction

    City Comptroller Heather Kuykendall was clear about Charleston’s plan for the future in an economy that is struggling.

    Projections by Kuykendall and City Manager Scott Smith predict the national economic downturn will affect Charleston in two years, with the 2010-2011 Fiscal Year Budget.

    “Though revenues should remain relatively flat by projection, I think it is important that we begin to bunker down and prepare for the predicted economic fall,” Kuykendall said.

    Kuykendall presented to the City Council at its semi-annual fall retreat that took place Thursday and will continue today.

    The National League of Cities released a report that emphasized how the affects of the national economic climate will begin to show in smaller cities.

    Kuykendall said it should take 18 to 24 months for real changes to emerge.

    “Revenue from income tax, which comes to about $92.40 per person annually, will take the biggest hit – dropping more than 50 percent by 2011,” she said.

    Currently, Charleston’s revenue lines have had no gain or loss, according to Kuykendall’s data. Because of the nationally recognized recession, Smith and Kuykendall have designed fiscal plans to accommodate for a local dip.

    “I think it is really important to recognize and encouraging to see our comptroller on top of things,” said Council Member Jim Dunn. “The council and city management need to stay ahead of the curve for the betterment of Charleston.”

    Kuykendall suggested the city look into what other cities are doing to prepare, listing early retirement plans without refilling the positions, hiring freezes and cutting projects in the budget as possible options. The mention of early retirement plans sparked discussion with the council.

    “We recently looked into the ERP and decided not to go ahead with it,” said Council Member Lorelei Sims. “Is this something we need to bring back again?”

    Mayor John Inyart said he was not comfortable talking about it with little information available.

    Director of Public Works Curt Buescher also presented about his department and coming projects for the year.

    Buescher said he hopes to continue the Leaf Drop-Off Project in future years that provides a mulch waste product.

    Eastern’s plan to create a new energy center with a power plant that would burn wood chips could use the waste of the tub grinder that Charleston rents from Mattoon, he said.

    Fourth Street should open for traffic today after construction nears completion, Buescher said. The entire construction should conclude on Nov. 30. But the construction on Fourth Street was only the first of many large road projects that will be conducted each fiscal year, he added.

    Large road construction projects that range upwards to $40,000 will be conducted from 2009 to 2011, Buescher said.

    The streets slated for renovation are Polk Street from Seventh to Ninth Streets, Ninth Street from Lincoln Avenue to Taylor Street and 20th Street from Kimberly Street to Illinois Route 16.

    All projects will have work to the sewer, storm, water and waste water mains prior to road construction.

    The city will also focus on incorporating more digitally timed pedestrian signals, primarily on Ninth Street and Lincoln Avenue, after the success of the Fourth Street and Lincoln Avenue signals.

    “Public works is really something that students should have a dialogue about,” said Eric Wilber, student representative to the City Council. “Before the signals were incorporated, students had no idea how much time they had to cross and would hold up traffic, potentially creating a safety issue.”

    Other issues addressed include the possible extension of Fire Station One or the building of a new fire station to aid growth in northern Charleston, presented Fire Chief Kris Phipps, and the continuation of vigorous enforcement of drug and alcohol violations in Charleston, presented Police Chief Mark Jenkins.

    “The biggest change to drug and alcohol violations that students need to realize is the state law that for those caught and convicted of underage drinking will lose their license for three months,” Wilber said.

    Wilber said there have been more than 700 violations this year, making it a major issue for students.

    Today’s agenda will provide presentations on some larger city issues, including the Solid Waste and Curbside Recycling Plan, the update to the Waste Water Treatment Plant upgrade and the unveiling of the results of the Siemans audit about the city’s potential for energy efficiency.

    The meeting today will be held at 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the basement conference room of City Hall.

    Krystal Moya can be reached at 581-7945 or at [email protected].

      Editorial Cartoon: The violence of inaction

      Editorial+Cartoon%3A+The+violence+of+inaction+

      (Drawn from the news/Yotam Zohar)

      (more…)

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