Highland has joined a long list of other cities across the state urging Gov. Bruce Rauer to veto a bill that would give wireless companies the right to install small cellular antennas on publicly owned utility poles and streetlights.
“Anyone can come in and jump on your (utility) poles for a small fee,” said Highland City Manager Mark Latham. “It’s not good for any community right now to have the governor sign this.”
Senate Bill 1451, which would establish the Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act, has already passed the General Assembly and is awaiting action by Rauner.
Wireless companies have pushed the legislation as a way upgrade the state’s communications network.
According to the Federal Communications Commission, wireless subscribers in Illinois have grown to more than 13.3 million, an 11 percent increase since 2010. That demands a better network, the companies’ trade association says.
“These demands from the wireless industry’s customers require that wireless networks be both updated to meet the existing demand and readied for the next generation of wireless networks. Specifically, the existing rules governing wireless networks are designed for wireless facilities that can be as tall as 200 feet. Tomorrow’s networks will rely on new small cell technology, often the size of a shoebox, which will be placed on structures such as utility poles and streetlights. These new networks need new rules and Senate Bill 1451 establishes an updated common sense framework to facilitate millions in new investment in Illinois,” Jamie Hastings, senior vice president for external and state affairs for CTIA, a trade association representing the wireless communications industry in the U.S., wrote to Rauner in a Dec. 12 letter urging him to sign the bill.
However, local governments across the state say the bill would give private companies a monopoly over public infrastructure.
“(The law) creates an automatic approval timeline, which is one-sided and detrimental to the public, presuming that municipalities are negligent — and providers not — when a permit is incomplete or inadequate,” the resolution passed by the Highland City Council read.
The law would permit private businesses to use public right-of-way at a rate far below market value, distorting the private market for small wireless facilities, the city’s resolution says.
The law would also permits wireless providers, and third parties who act as agents or contractors for wireless providers, to locate telecommunications equipment with an antenna as large as six cubic feet in size, and associated equipment up to 25 cubic feet in size on existing or new utility poles subject to minimal zoning regulations by the municipality.
Regardless of what action the governor takes, Latham said the city is in the process of updating its right of way ordinance in order to require companies to go through a permit and inspection process or face a fine.
Change order OK’d for Sportsman Road
The council approved balancing the final change order with Bruce Concrete Construction for the Sportsman Road reconstruction project. The change order reflects a decrease in cost for the project of about $4,200. The original contract price of the project with Bruce Concrete was $165,826.03.
Electric meter purchases approved
The council approved waiving normal and customary bidding procedures and authorized the purchase of ITRON electric 140 meters from Anixter Power Solutions for $35,000, and 140 polyphase meter communication modules with the associated licenses from Tantalus Systems for $30,237.
Normal bidding was waived on the purchases, because the two companies are whom the city chose when it decided to install “smart meter” technology and the city’s new system would not be comparable with any other vendors. Therefore, going out for bids would be moot.
Light and Power Director Dan Cook said the new smart meters have been “providing satisfactory service for several years.”
Agreement approved with Channel 4
The council approved a retransmission consent agreement between Meredith Corporation and Highland Communication Services. Meredith is the parent company of KMOV Channel 4 in St. Louis, which provides CBS affiliate programming, MyNetwork and MeTV. These programs are required to be offered in HCS’s basic package and are a mainstay to cable television services, according to Angela Imming, the city’s director of technology and innovation.
MFT taxes appropriated
The council approved appropriation of Motor Fuel Tax funds for 2018 for the maintenance of streets and highways. The $255,000 will be used to purchase rock salt and grit for snow and ice removal in winter, as well as purchasing street signs, doing pavement marking, pavement replacement and patching, and oil and chip street coating.
Property to be sold
The council declared .281 acres of city-owned land at 12527 Silver Lake Road as surplus property and authorized its sale.
After a survey was completed last year for the new emergency access to Silver Lake, an adjacent property owner discovered his well house and storage shed were on city property. The owner desires to purchase the property from the city.
An appraisal has been completed and the property is worth $1,700.
“The city sees no use for the property,” City Manager Mark Latham said in a memo to council members.
The appraisal cost the city $350. It was done by DJ Howard & Associates in Highland.
Sexual harassment policy changed
The council approved an amendment to the city’s personnel policy manual in regards to sexual harassment.
In November, Rauner signed a new law expanding traditional protections against sexual harassment for government employees, including changing the definition of sexual harassment, increasing penalties against harassers, and creating new avenues of recourse for victims. The law also required municipalities to adopt a sexual harassment policy within two months of the law begin signed.
Though the city also had a policy on the books, the council chose to adopt a new policy, drafted by the Illinois Municipal League, that meets all the guidelines of the new law.
Tax Levy approved
The council approved a property tax levy of $3.84 million for the upcoming fiscal year, a 2.95 percent increase over last year’s levy.
For a homeowner with property valued at $150,000, monthly property taxes would cost around $80.40, about $1.17 more than last year.
Property taxes paid to the city of Highland help pay for city streets, parks, police and fire protection, ambulance availability, the summer municipal band and Peanut Butter and Jam entertainment, the parks and recreation programs, school crossing guards, as well as necessary employment taxes and retirement benefits, outside financial audits, and the city’s liability insurance.
Highland’s property tax rate is $1.93 per $100 in assessed value increase the upcoming fiscal year. That would be a 1.93 percent increase over the current year’s rate.
The property tax levy amounts to about 8 percent of the city’s $45.6 million budget.
Meeting dates approved
The council approved all meeting dates for the city’s various board and commissions for the 2018 calendar year.
The council approved two changes to the 2017-2018 budget. The first was the addition of 32,000 in comfort station property tax dollars to pay for restroom upgrades at the new HHS tennis courts. The other change was in the budget for the city’s liability insurance, $25,000 was added to ensure contingency costs are covered by tax levy. The total liability insurance budget line is now $330,000.
The council granted a request by the Lebanon Cedar Cruisers for the group to hold its annual Volkswalk in Highland on May 12. William Malina, president, of the group said the event usually begins around 8:30 a.m. and concludes by 11 a.m. Walkers will start at the Square.
The council also agreed to become a Silver Level ($1,000) sponsor of the Highland Optimists’ 2018 Shootout. Rick Ringwald, representing the Optimist Club, said more than 1,350 tickets have already been for the annual high school basketball event, which will be Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 at Highland High School and feature seven games with several Division I college recruits.
The council also approved a request by Highland Masonic Lodge 583 traffic alterations for when the group holds its annual sausage supper Sunday, Feb. 11. The event, which is held at the Masonic Temple at 721 9th St., typically draws between 800 and 1,100 diners. In order to keep traffic flowing easier to and from the event, the Masons requested that on that day, traffic on 9th Street from Walnut to Pestalozzi be one-way heading east. Also, the group requested no parking be allowed on that stretch of 9th Street from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.