On Monday, July 31, O’Fallon’s first “Committee of the Whole” meeting was held at the Public Safety Facility. This new meeting format allows the City Council to discuss broad policy issues and establish priorities for improving the community. These new meetings will be held each time there is a fifth Monday in a month, the next will be on Oct. 30 at 6 p.m. at the Public Safety Facility.
There were a number of important items discussed during the meeting, and I want to take a moment this week to update the community about what was discussed.
The first item discussed was the City’s Strategic Plan, which was developed and adopted by the City Council in 2013. A lot can happen in four years; therefore, the City Council will be reviewing the plan for needed updates and changes. To help facilitate the council’s strategic planning, O’Fallon’s elected officials will be going on a bus tour throughout the city to see the needs of different parts of the city. The council will then be asked to prioritize, by departments, their priorities going forward.
The second topic covered was the city’s health insurance policy for employees. Like any employer, public or private, health insurance is normally a large expense for the city of O’Fallon. The city has made adjustments over the last few years to keep premium increases low, including a two-tier program that allows for high deductibles and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). The city’s healthcare provider, United Health Care, initially projected a 14 percent increase for the coming year, but after negotiations and modifications the city achieved a 4 percent decrease in premiums that will save the city over $400,000.
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Next, O’Fallon’s city staff gave a presentation to the council on the economic development efforts and strategy performed by the city of O’Fallon to attract businesses to the community. While there are some services where the city needs outside assistance, a considerable amount of time and resources are spent internally promoting O’Fallon and attracting economic development.
O’Fallon City Administrator Walter Denton then gave an update on the Downtown Plaza. Part of the Destination O’Fallon initiative last year was the development of a new parking lot and Downtown Plaza at the City-owned gravel lot at Vine and First Street (also known as the Santa Hut Lot). City staff is currently working on determining if more parking spaces can be created in Downtown adjacent to the caboose, depot and surrounding areas. While researching infrastructure around the site, staff also discovered that a high-pressure gas line runs through the northern portion of the Santa Hut lot, which may impact where the plaza is located.
The next important topic covered was the city’s residential waste hauler contract with Waste Management, which is set to expire on Feb. 1, 2018, and the city will be going out to bid. We have been having discussions with Shiloh to combine services into one contract to get a better service price for our residents. There is plenty more to come as Shiloh’s trustees are currently discussing the possible partnership.
The last topic discussed was the possibility of term limits. Around the state, and country, term limits are a popular discussion item, and I believe term limits are good, and that we should evaluate whether or not they would be best for the future of O’Fallon. The council asked city staff to prepare a report and comparison of other communities who have set term limits so that they could discuss the idea of term limits again, soon.
As you can see, a lot was discussed. These meetings provide an opportunity for O’Fallon’s City Council to talk about policy decisions and subjects that may not normally be brought up during normal City Council meetings. They are an opportunity for our council to inform, and be informed. It is another opportunity for the Council to gather public input. I encourage everyone to attend future Committee of the Whole meetings and speak to the council.
There is one more item that will soon be discussed — the return of a community-sponsored event. This is one item that many expressed to me during my campaign that they desired. So, I want to invite anyone who is interested in joining in on the first discussion about this future community event, whether it is a fair, homecoming, fireworks show, etc., to please come to City Hall this Thursday, Aug. 10 at 6:30 p.m. and share your thoughts.
As residents of O’Fallon, you should always be able to reach out to your elected officials and ask questions about what is happening in O’Fallon. Having open communications is important to me and something I care very deeply about. Thank you for reading, and please remember, my door is always open.
Chances for public to give input
Community-sponsored event meeting: Anyone who is interested in joining in on the first discussion about this future community event, whether it is a fair, homecoming, fireworks show, etc., to please come to O’Fallon City Hall on Thursday, Aug. 10 at 6:30 p.m.
Next Committee of the Whole meeting: This new meeting format allows the City Council to discuss broad policy issues and establish priorities for improving the community. These new meetings will be held each time there is a fifth Monday in a month. The next will be on Oct. 30 at 6 p.m. at the Public Safety Facility.