City Council approves of SBLHC hospice house, expansions


Rob Le Cates

Charleston City Councilman Jeff Lahr moves the city ordinance approving the proposal of the Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center Hospice House to vote during the City Council meeting Tuesday evening. The house will come with eight suites, each with private bedrooms, a kitchen, a library and several family areas totalling at 14,000 square feet. The Council approved of the ordinance 4-0.

Rob Le Cates, Assistant Photo Editor

The Charleston City Council voted 4-0 in favor of the ordinance for the Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center Hospice House on Tuesday night. 

This property is located within the Charleston zoning jurisdiction near Illinois Route 16 by 10660 County Rd. and 800 North Mattoon. 

The property will total 14,000 square feet and was reviewed by the Corridor Review Committee with final consideration coming from the Council. 

The one-story house will come with eight suites, each with private bedrooms, a kitchen, a library and several family areas; to view an image of the floor plan click here.

Deborah Muller, the Charleston city clerk, said that there are no hospice houses close by and some families drive several hours to reach one. 

Muller added that this hospice house would be much more “homey.” 

The Council also approved a 44,423 square feet expansion for the SBLHC. 

Steve Pamperin, the Charleston city planner, said the expansion will be used to renovate the inside existing space, expand the Intensive Care Unit, add 15 medical/surgical beds to the facility and relocate offices. 

The Corridor Review Committee met Wednesday and recommended the approval of the site floor plan. 

The Council approved a resolution in support of Tax Increment Financing, TIF. 

The TIF is a public financing method used to aid the maintenance of infrastructure. 

The district boundaries are Van Buren Ave. to Railroad Ave. to 4th Street to 11th Street. 

The funds will ensure the security and preservation of the downtown courthouse square. 

“The city finds that the valuably of TIF as an economic development tool is essential for continuing the economic vitality of the city,” Malak said. 

The Council approved the new water and sewer rates, placing them on public inspection. 

The rate will be increased by 3.9 percent, averaging three dollars a month and $40 a year. 

The ordinance said it is “necessary to increase the charges for said service in order to continue the provision of service.”

The Council approved an amendment to Title 1-8 of the Fire Department, adjusting the staffing to continue to provide efficient fire suppression and ambulance services to the City of Charleston and the surrounding area. 

The Council approved an ordinance regulating video gaming in the city. 

This regulation pertains to gambling and slot machines. 

In line with House Bill 3136, allowing the non-home rule of local governments to impose annual video gaming fees of $250 to implement other charges as well. 

The current licensing fees are valid until June 30 with the renewals commencing July 1. 

The Council approved two temporary street closures outside Macs’ Uptowner on the square. 

Uptowner will be hosting an outdoor band event on April 9, named JT Construction, with the closure from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. for the section of 7th Street between Monroe and Madison Avenues. 

The other street closure is a screening of “The Good Dinosaur” on April 23, with the same limitations. 

Brandon Combs, the mayor of Charleston, appointed Brendan Lynch to a three-year term on the Tourism Advisory Board. 

The Council had several recognitions recognizing April as Parliamentary Law Month and Autism Awareness Month and April 29 as Arbor Day. 

Kelsy Swing, partner of Gilbert, Metzger, & Madigan LLP, gave a presentation for the 2021 audit, her report stated:

  • The city received a clean audit report
  • The city had total assets and deferred outflows of resources of around $80 million, an increase of $2 million from last fiscal year
  • The city had total liabilities and deferred inflows of resources of around $72 million, a decrease of around $4 million from last fiscal year
  • The city’s long-term debt decreased by around $2 million while the net pension liability decreased by $6.6 million but is offset by an increase of $4 million in deferred pension; on April 30, 2021, the city’s total net pension was $7.9 million, an increase of around $5.6 million from last fiscal year
  • The governmental activities had a negative unrestricted balance of around $43 million, but was an improvement over last fiscal year
  • The business type activities had a positive unrestricted balance of around $3 million, which can be used at the city’s discretion
  • The city recognizes revenues of around $23 million while expenses were $24 million resulting in a decrease in net position of around $931,000
  • At the fund level, the general fund had an unassigned balance of $7.6 million, an increase of around $2.2 million over the last fiscal year
  • The water and sewer fund increased its net pension by around $1.6 million, on April 30, the pension trust funds had around $35 million held in trust for future pension benefits, an increase of $8.2 million from the last fiscal year

“Overall the city has done a very good job and has been a good steward of taxpayer dollars,” Swing said. “The city continues to control spending while investing in capital infrastructure nad reserving funds for future capital expenditures.”

In the absence of Combs, Councilman Dennis Malak filled the role of mayor. 


Robert Le Cates can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].