City Council to vote on revised local government resolution

Stephanie Markham, Editor-in-Chief

The Charleston City Council will vote Tuesday on a revised resolution called “Supporting Local Government Relief and Reform” and eight ordinances for funding local business renovations.

The resolution, originally titled “Supporting Local Government Empowerment and Reform,” passed on April 7 and was meant to show the city’s support for some of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s plans to create local right-to-work zones.

The council rescinded the first resolution during its May 5 meeting and placed a new version on file for public inspection.

The sections that support local empowerment zones and oppose the city having to pay prevailing wage were omitted, while a section about locally owned businesses being hindered by state laws that increase costs to the municipality was added to the new version of the resolution.

The revision includes a section indicating the city’s support of discussion on major reforms to state government and cooperative negotiation among leaders.

Mayor Larry Rennels said the council made additional revisions omitting a few more sections following the May 5 meeting.

Other removed sections include one about state law increasing the use of project labor agreements, one about local voters deciding whether or not employees should pay union dues and another about Illinois having high workers’ compensation costs.

Some language was changed as well; the last sentence now states the resolution would “enable” local voters rather than “empower” them, and the title of the resolution now has the word “relief” rather than “empowerment.”

“We pared it down to those things most pertinent to the running of the city,” Rennels said.

Rennels said the decision to make revisions was based on public concerns raised after the resolution was passed.

For example, the April 22 meeting saw a standing-room-only crowd of state representatives and concerned citizens voicing their opinions on the resolution and how it was passed without initially being put on file for public inspection.

Rennels said he does not know if many community members will be present at Tuesday’s meeting.

“I wouldn’t be surprised either way,” he said.

The council will also vote on eight ordinances to provide Tax Increment Financing funds for various businesses planning renovation.

Rennels said the TIF district encompasses the area around the downtown square. If one of those businesses does major renovations that increase their tax value, that additional money goes into the TIF fund for other businesses to do improvements.

Rennels said the city usually grants 50 percent of the money needed for renovations, and each year a committee goes through the applications to decide which are reasonable.

“We have an annual amount of money we can spend, and we rank order them,” he said. “Some are not as urgent, and we ask them to reapply for next year.”

Rennels said the eight projects total $188,076 of which $85,077 is being requested from TIF funds and $102,999 would come from the property owners.

Also on the council’s agenda is a resolution to allocate $538,013 of Motor Fuel Tax funds and four different raffle licenses. The motor fuel funds are for maintaining streets and highways for the fiscal year that starts this May and goes to April 2016.

The council will meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in City Hall.

Stephanie Markham can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].