In discussion at their April 3 meeting, Highland City Council came to consensus that the city should move toward creating a special type of liquor license available exclusively to gaming parlors.
Mayor Joe Michaelis said the problem at hand is that the city has reached its threshold, 23, for Class A liquor licenses, which allow for the sale of any type of alcohol.
Michaelis said that without any more liquor licenses, businesses wishing to open in Highland might be deterred from doing so, because they would not be able to sell alcohol.
However, Michaelis said he was also hesitant to increase the cap, because increasing the number of licenses could create too much competition for existing businesses.
“Established businesses in this community need our support,” Michaelis said. “It will be no good if we open 10 new businesses and 10 established businesses go out of business.”
The state law that allowed video gaming in Illinois requires that businesses who operate the machines hold a liquor license. Currently, gaming parlors in Highland take up two of the Class A liquor licenses.
During the discussion, the council decided that they wanted to work toward creating a special liquor license only available to gaming parlors, which would free up two licenses for other types of establishments.
Highland presently has three gaming parlors, Spin-to-Win, Lacey’s Place and the Baymont Inn. The city will keep the maximum number of gaming parlors at five.
“It used to be where you could only have one tavern per church,” Councilwoman Peggy Bellm said. “I mean, we’ve came a long way.”
The council decided that they had enough agreement to proceed with creating a liquor license specifically for gaming parlors.
The city attorney Michael McGinley will work on drafting a new ordinance that the council could take up at its April 17 meeting.
Public budget hearing scheduled
The council approved making the 2017-2018 fiscal year budget available to the public.
The city’s potential budget will be a total of $48.3 million. According to the City Manager Mark Latham, the budget reflects the city’s desire to invest in aging infrastructure while building reserves through a conservative budgeting strategy.
Next year’s budget has city expenses decreasing by 6 percent, which means the city is expected to have excess revenues of $217, 379.
Latham said that other major highlights of the budget include an projected increase in sales tax revenue, which he feels reflects the strong retail base of the city.
There will be a public budget hearing before the next City Council meeting April 17.
During the staff reports, the City Manager Mark Latham presented the council with some information of his research about development of single-family residences within city limits.
At the council meeting on March 27, the council voted to table a proposed development incentive plan until the second council meeting in April.
Latham provided a spreadsheet to the council, which depicted the single-family development over the last several years. He also provided another spreadsheet comparing Highland to other communities within Madison County.
During the brief discussion, the assistant city manager Lisa Peck said that, in a quarterly assessment of home building in Madison County, Highland was ranked fifth, with only 21 new homes built.
Rock-A-Block request approved
The council approved a request from Joe Garson, the out reach director of the Apostolic Revival Church, located at 11656 State Route 143. The request was for the use of the Square for the church’s annual Rock-A-Block event.
The event, which is completely free, will take place July 22 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. According to Garson, the event promotes family fun with a bounce house, face painting, games, puppet shows, hot dogs, drinks and live Christian music preformed by the church’s bands and music groups. Garson said that the event is the church’s way of giving back to the families and community of Highland.
According to Garson, at the event in past years, the church has also provided children with free backpacks full of school supplies, bicycles for children of various ages, and gift certificates.
Garson also asked for the Highland fire and police departments to be present at the event to display their equipment and show what they do for the community.
The church also offered to completely clean the Square after the event is finished. According to Garson, 700 people are expected to attend the event.
Schweizerfest request tabled
The council tabled a request from the Highland Jaycees for the use of the Square for 2017 Schweizerfest.
The event is planned to take place at the Highland Square starting June 9 at 6 p.m. and continue through the weekend. Major attractions of the event include a parade, a 5K run, bingo, carnival rides, food and beverage stands and various forms of entertainment throughout the weekend.
Along with the presence of HPD for security and the closure of Broadway, the group requested the closure of the inner-Square area at 1 p.m. and the closure of the whole outer-Square area at 3 p.m. This was where the city council saw a problem.
In the past, the festival caused the area around the Square to shut down at 5 p.m., and the events would start around 7 p.m., giving the businesses around the Square a bit more time to stay open for business. However, this year, the Jaycees wanted to move up the starting time, Jaycees Chairperson Sarah Sloan said.
But the group failed to communicate with businesses about the new 3 p.m. closure time. Councilman Neill Nicolaides, who business, Compustitch is located on the Square, said that this did not make business owners happy.
“This is our livelihood,” Nicolaides said. “We can’t shut down just so some people can party.”
Sloan said that the Jaycees considered letting the surrounding businesses have free slots in the festival craft fair to make up for the lost business time. Nicolaides said that he did not think anyone would take up that offer, and the other council members agreed.
The council voted unanimously to table the request and recommended that representatives of Schweizerfest speak with the affected businesses.
Jaycees representatives said they would return with their findings at the April 17 council meeting.
The council approved the appointment of Marshall Henry Rinderer to the Library Board of Trustees.
The Liberty Board of Trustees is a committee of trustees that handles matters concerning the operations of the Louis Latzer Memorial Public Library. The board meets on the fourth Tuesday of every month at 5 p.m., except in July and December.
Rinderer, an attorney, has his own practice, Rinderer Law Firm in Highland. He believes his experience as a small business owner helps him to understand administrative duties associated with running an organization. Mayor Michaelis said that he would be an excellent candidate to fill the position because of his interest in the mission of the library.
Rinderer will take the vacant position from when Matt Frederickson resigned from the board. Rinderer’s term will expire in June, at which time he will be up for reappointment.
Police seek to purchase two vehicles
The council approved the bid letting for the purchase of a Ford sports utility police vehicle and a Chevrolet Tahoe special service vehicle.
The Ford SUV will replace the 2013 Ford Explorer squad car currently being used by the sergeant and shift-commanders at the Highland Police Department. The current vehicle will have approximately 114,000 miles by the time the department is able to replace the fleet. The estimated price of the vehicle with the required options is $28,639.
The Tahoe is being purchased to replace a 2006 Chevrolet Impala, which is being used as an administrative vehicle at the HPD. The new vehicle will be used at the lieutenant’s full-time squad and will be used as a mobile command vehicle. The police department is also purchasing the vehicle with the intent of using it to tow the trailer for the new 2,000 feet of oil boom and the department’s boat that has been ordered, which will be used to deploy the boom. HPD does not currently have a vehicle heavy enough to safely tow either the trailer or the boat.
City officials examined several options on the state bid list for full-size special service vehicles. The Tahoe was the only offering on the state bid site that had options needed for the towing.
The price of the vehicle on the state bid, with the required amenities, is $37,063. The city is going out for bid in hopes of finding a dealer that could beat the state price.
Bid procedures waived
The council waived customary bidding procedure for a purchase order battery system for $17,170 for the power plant.
In November, the batteries in the system were inspected. During the examination, two cracked cases were found. A reinspection in March identified 17 cracked cases and heaving terminal connection points.
According to the Director of Light & Power Dan Cook, it was imperative that customary bidding procedure was waived for this purchase because of the urgency of the need for new batteries. Cook said that the average life of these particular batteries is 10 years but the ones used in the current system are 18 years old.
He said the battery banks are custom orders, which can take two to three weeks to complete, and that would be on top of the additional time needed for traditional bidding procedure, which adds a month to the time.
“We cannot chance this as it jeopardizes the integrity of our 138 KV power delivery system and could significantly impact our overall reliability,” Cook said in a memo.
Vehicle ordinance consolidation approved
The council approved an ordinance which consolidates the process for dealing with abandoned, inoperable, hazardous, unlicensed and stored vehicles, trailers, boats, etc., on private and public property for an extended period of time.
Latham, the city manager, said that the city was told that they needed to “beef up” the ordinances concerning this subject.
According to McGinley, the city attorney, the new ordinance was made to give citizens a little bit of “due process” before their vehicles are towed.
The new ordinance allows for the owner of the nuisance property to be heard after receiving notice in either a pre- or post-towing hearing. However, post-tow hearings can only be heard in the case of a vehicle that was towed because it posed a hazard to traffic, or if the vehicle was stolen. It is the responsibility of the owner of the property to initiate the hearing.
Public dancing is now free
The council passed an ordinance that will amend the procedure of applying for a license for a public dance and live music or entertainment where there is dancing. The city currently charges a license fee and requires a license for events where there is public dance. The new ordinance states that a license or license fee will no longer be necessary for events involving public dances.
Alcohol ordinance amended
The council approved an ordinance which clarifies the process of applying for a special use permit liquor license. The city of Highland will now issue the state of Illinois application form for a special event retailer’s liquor license for not-for-profit events. The ordinance also eliminates the city license $10 per day fee associated with the permit.