Highland News Leader

New agreement allows city extra water access for times of emergency

The water tower in Highland.
The water tower in Highland.

In times of emergency, some areas of Highland will soon have access to another water supply.

During its meeting Nov. 6, the Highland City Council approved an agreement with the Tri-Township Water District for an emergency water system interconnection.

“Although Tri-Township system could not provide enough water for all of Highland during an emergency, it would help in the southeast areas.” City Manager Mark Latham said a memo to council members.

The Tri-Township Water District provides water to rural areas around Highland, as well as Trenton, Lebanon, Aviston and St. Jacob areas.

“Being able to connect these systems is a good thing,” Latham said.

Latham said that the city has been working with the water district in multiple ways for several years now. He said this deal, in particular, has been in the works for the last two years. The idea is that when there is a water main break or some other type of emergency, the city and the district will be able to exchange water.

Latham said that the plan is to connect the two water systems at a point on Iberg Road. The systems are already close together at that site, so Latham said the project will be a minor one. At the connection point, Latham said there will be a new meter installed that will keep track of the borrowed water, so the city and/or the water district can be reimbursed.

The agreement states that both parties will share construction costs for the system interconnection. Latham said the project is expected to cost the city less than $10,000.

“It could be as little as $5,000,” he said.

Latham said that the city might also be looking at pursuing similar agreements with other water districts in the future that way more areas of the city can be serviced in times of emergency.

Unfinished business

The council approved three new business districts within the city and an attached additional  1/2 cent sales tax within those districts.

Highlands new business districts are:

▪ District A: Northtown and areas along Walnut Street and U.S. 40.

▪ District B: Downtown district including areas along Broadway and Highland Road.

▪ District C: Centered along Frank Watson Parkway, much of which is still undeveloped.

The city will begin collecting the tax in July 2018. The funds collected from the tax will be used to help fund needs of the Public Safety Department.

The Public Safety Department has presented multiple options to remedy its current facility requirements and needs. Latham said at the beginning of 2018 the city will start to look at some proposals for carrying out some of the options.

Latham also mentioned that by the end of the year the city will be looking to sell 10-acres of land that it owns near HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital. He said that hopefully selling the land will encourage some development that would also help to generate some additional revenue for these future projects.

Veteran’s Awareness Week proclamation

Michaelis proclaimed Nov. 6-11 as Veterans Awareness Week. The week is dedicated to the purpose of emphasizing educational efforts directed at elementary and secondary school students concerning the contributions and sacrifices of veterans.

Youth Appreciation Week

Mayor Michaelis proclaimed Nov. 20-24 as Youth Appreciation Week. Optimists International has dedicated this week to appreciating youth since 1956.

Sadie Carroll honored 

Mayor Michaelis recognized Highland High School senior Sadie Carroll during the council meeting for scholastic achievement.

Carroll was selected as one of the top 15 leaders out of 177 at the Greater Belleville Area Youth Salute Conference in August. The event took place at Southwestern Illinois College. Students from 17 area high schools participate in the two day workshop co-sponsored by SWIC, Cedarleaf Photography and Regions Bank. During the event, conference students participate in leadership and self-esteem building activities.

Highland High School nominates students during their junior year of high school. This year, there were 23 Highland students. Nominees must meet GPA and academic criteria as well as have a resume of leadership experiences. Carroll has over a 5.0 GPA and has taken every advanced placement course at the high school except for one.

HMS baseball team honored

Michaelis also honored the Highland Middle School eighth-grade boys baseball team for their state championship title this year. The whole team was present during the meeting, where their coaches gave a brief overview of the season and the championship game. After a standing ovation from the council chamber, the boys shook the hands of each council member.

IMLRMA agreement approved

The council approved the renewal of the city’s property, casualty and workers compensation coverage with the Illinois Municipal League Risk Management Association.

A memo from the Latham and Director of Human Resources Lisa Shoeck said that the city reported a great year with IMLRMA. The premium increase for 2018 for the city is almost nonexistent, .01 percent. The memo said that the city continues to have a relatively low amount of claims in terms of frequency and severity. The city’s loss ration across all lines of coverage is 15 percent, according to the memo.

The memo said that the city will also be continuing its minimum/maximum funding option, which allows the city to pay a reduced premium up front, provided the city’s claims do not exceed a set amount. For the next year, if the city’s claims would exceed $418,293, then the cit would be responsible for paying these claims dollar-for-dollar up to a maximum payout of $639,742. The memo said the next year’s premium for this program is $621,593.49. This includes a 1 percent fee for paying installment and the annual IML dues are now included in the annual premium invoices.

2018 premiums will be:

▪ Worker’s Compensation, $262,096.

▪ Auto Liability & Comprehensive General Liability, $293,236.

▪ Portable Equipment, $6,847.

▪ Auto Physical Damage, $19,090.

▪ Property, $123,181.

2017 premiums were:

▪ Worker’s Compensation, $279,637.

▪ Auto Liability & Comprehensive General Liability, $187,660.

▪ Portable Equipment, $5,873.

▪ Auto Physical Damage, $20,257.

▪ Property, $116,859.

Ambulance contracts approved

The council approved ambulance contracts between the city, Marine Community Fire Protection District, St. Jacob Fire Protection District, and Clinton County Special Service Area No. 5 (St. Rose).

Highland EMS provides ambulance services and CPR training to neighboring, smaller communities so their fire districts do not have to maintain an ambulance.

“We looked at our numbers, and this year, we had a little bit of a shortfall,” said Highland EMS Chief Brian Wilson.

This short fall was made up by raising fees for these communities. The contract said these fees are based on property tax values and will likely fluctuate from year to year.

The new fees are:

▪ Marine, $77,397.

▪ St. Jacob, $56,747.

▪ St. Rose, $28,214.

Fund borrowing approved

The council approved a resolution that authorizes the city to borrow funds from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Revolving Loan program from improvement to the water reclamation facility (sewer treatment plant).

IEPA loan application documentation requires a city to pass a resolution authorizing it to borrow funds from the program. Director of Public Works Joe Gillespie said that the water reclamation facility upgrade is the next step in the city’s sanitary sewer rehabilitation plan.

In a memo, Gillespie said that the city is requesting a total of $11 million. Out of that $11 million, $8 million will go toward plant improvements and $3 million will be uses for rehab of the collection system trunk mains.

The City Council approved an engineering agreement for this plan design earlier this year.

HCS affiliation agreement approved

The council approved the renewal of an agreement with Highland Communication Services, Vivicast Media LLC and NHL Network US L.P.

Street light bid letting approved

The council approved seeking bids for continuing the replacement of traditional lighting within the city with LED lighting. In the past, the city installed more than 100 of these light fixtures. Director of Light & Power Dan Cook said the replacement has yielded great results. LED lights lower energy utilization and reduce maintenance costs, according to Cook.

The estimated cost for the project is $60,000. This expenditure was approved in the budget for the 2018 fiscal year.