Highland News Leader

Highland stops state retirement fund for elected officials

The Highland City Council on June 5 approved the termination of the participation for elected city officials in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund.

Every two years, the city is required to re-certify elected positions for the state retirement fund. To qualify for the fund, an elected official has to meet an annual hourly standard of 1,000 hours per year worked. According to the City Manager Mark Latham, the current elected officials do not meet this requirement. Elected city positions include the city clerk, the four members of the City Council, the mayor and the city treasurer.

Currently, City Clerk Barbara Bellm is the only elected city official who partakes in the IMRF, according to Lisa Shoeck, Highland’s director of human resources.

Latham said that terminating elected official participation in the fund will not stop elected positions from partaking in the fund in the future. However, if an elected official would like to reinstall in the plan, they would need to prove that they contribute at least 1,000 hours to the city.

This change only effects elected officials. City employees, with the exception of the Highland Police Department officers who have their own pension plan, will still remain enrolled in IMRF.

Other business

City achieves RP3 status

During staff reports, Latham congratulated city officials for the city receiving its RP3 certification from the American Public Power Association.

According to the APPA website, the RP3 program highlights utility companies that show extreme proficiency with reliability, safety, work force development and system improvement. The certification is based on business practices and recognized industry leading practices.

Latham said that there are around 2,200 companies in the APPA and out of those companies only about 10 percent are recognized as RP3 certified. Director of Light and Power Dan Cook said that their are only four RP3 businesses in the state of Illinois.

“This is a great, great, great accomplishment,” Latham said.

HCS reaches milestone customer base

Latham also reported that Highland Communication Services has officially reached 2,003 customers.

“That was one big milestone,” Latham said.

Director of Technology and Innovation Angela Imming said HCS has been eying that 2,000 customer mark with great anticipation.

“We have been so close, but the winter months are typically slow,” Imming said. “So, as we got closer and closer, it got more and more real.”

Imming said that HCS currently has 53 percent saturation, which means that about half of the people who can have HCS do subscribe in some form. This number has grown about 15 percent from about 18 months ago.

“That is impressive for a small start-up,” Imming said.

HCS offers phone, Internet, cable and streaming services.

Appointment approved

The council approved the appointment of John Hipskind to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission, as recommended by Mayor Joe Michaelis.

Christina Harisberger resigned from her position on the commission. Michaelis said that he believes Hipskind’s background with law and non-profits makes him a great addition to the commission.

Hipskind will serve the remainder of Harisberger’s term, which expires July 31, 2017.

Prevailing wages rate approved

The city council approved a schedule for prevailing wage rates that are required to be paid for work done on or after June 5 for public works departments in Madison County. These rates are set by the state of Illinois.

Public bodies in the county with active public works projects are responsible for telling all contractors and subcontractors working on those projects of any changes to the rates that were previously in effect. However, the failure to tell the parties does not give contractors and subcontractors permission to stop their obligations to the project, under the Prevailing Wage Act.

Path assistance application approved

The council gave city officials the green light to apply for 2017 Transportation Alternatives Program for assistance with extending the shared-use path along Illinois Route 160.

The existing path stops at the entrance to HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital in Highland. According to Latham, the main inspiration for extending the path was the safety of pedestrians along the route, which is near Highland High School and Highland Middle School. Latham said near the schools is a 32-apartment residential complex, and the students who live in that complex have to walk or ride their bikes in the street to go to and from school. The new path will eliminate the need to walk in the road.

The entire route will be handicap accessible, and the city has funds available to finance the project until it is reimbursed by the transportation alternatives program.

Bid letting and surplus property

The council approved the bid letting for the purchase of three new pickup trucks for the Street and Alley, Water and Sewer Maintenance, and Water Treatment Plant supervisors.

The Street and Alley Department plans to keep its 2008 Ford F-250 pickup that has about 128,000 miles on it. It will continue to be utilized by the crews. But the rest of the vehicles to be replaced were declared surplus property and will be be put up for sale by the city. The vehicles include a 1995 Chevrolet 1500 pickup truck with 71,901 miles and a 2000 Chevy Blazer SUV with 89,025 miles.

The council also approved the bid letting for the purchase of a new truck cab and chassis at the Water Reclamation Facility. A 1997 Chevrolet 35000 with a  3/4 ton-chassis and cab need to be replaced. The truck, which has a service body and a crane, has 67,211 miles on it. It will also be up for sale.

The purchases are budgeted for the 2018 fiscal year.

Roundabout funding agreement approved

The council approved a local agency agreement between the state of Illinois for funding preliminary engineering of a roundabout that will be located at the Broadway/St. Rose Road and Iberg Road/Veterans Honor Parkway intersection. At the council meeting on March 6, the council approved preliminary engineering with Oates Associates, costing $171,235. The agreement shows that the state of Illinois will pay for 90 percent of the preliminary engineering, which leaves the city responsible for $17,200.

Cemetery plot transfer approved

The council approved the transfer of a grave and cemetery lot ownership from Alexander J. VanVoorhees to Phyllis Bethel of Collinsville. VanVoorhees received the deed to the grave on April 28 in 1980. The grave spaces owned by VanVoorhees are spaces three and four in lot No. 59 of block No. 18 in the Highland City Cemetery. The ownership of grave space three will be given to Bethel.

Scoreboard declared surplus property

The council approved one youth sports scoreboard to be declared surplus personal property. The scoreboard currently resides at the Highland Optimist field in Glik Park. Latham said that the scoreboard was no longer useful for the city, and will be given to Highland High School to be used one of its baseball fields. A new scoreboard will be placed at Glik Park.