NOKOMIS — The Nokomis City Council will soon need to decide on the future of a major water project. The project was a matter of discussion during the August 14 regular meeting of the council.
Lee Beckwith from Milano and Grunloh was on the agenda to discuss the wastewater treatment plant. Unfortunately, he was unable to appear.
Beckwith was invited to appear at the meeting by Commissioner Michael Glenn. The intent for the invitation was to discuss approving an agreement with the firm for the city wastewater treatment plant project. This would effectively terminate the services of Benton and Associates.
Mayor Dylan Goldsmith is responsible for the final approval of the meeting agenda as set by city bylaws. Goldsmith would allow Beckwith to deliver his presentation and discussion on the matter. No decision was ever on the meeting agenda.
Goldsmith wanted to allow ample time for commissioners to fully understand the plans of both firms.
Milano and Grunloh is the engineering firm working under contract for EJ Water Cooperative, which services Witt, Irving, Montgomery County Rural Water, and following completion, Coalton. In the interim, Coalton is still receiving water service from Nokomis.
Glenn motioned for a special meeting to be set on August 16 at 7 p.m., when Beckwith would be available to make his sales pitch. Unfortunately, Goldsmith and commissioner Lou Stauder would be unable to attend. This could potentially be due to Glenn not checking if other commissioners would be available to attend.
Glenn and Goldsmith got into a heated argument over Goldsmith not returning phone calls. Goldsmith stated that he did not receive the calls or messages. Commissioner Scott Arkebauer stated a need for a better system of communication between the commissioners and the mayor.
Stauder would then confront Glenn about why he’s so ‘obsessed’ with EJ Water and what was in it for him.
Commissioner Tisha Morris commented that she would like to hear from both engineering firms, as well as any other interested firm, with the intent to have the best plan in mind for the city.
Current background of the Nokomis wastewater project
Benton and Associates have been working on the wastewater project in Nokomis for over two years. After hearing proposals from several companies, the former administration chose them due to having the best plan to meet the present and future needs of the city.
To date, Benton and Associates have received $282,000 from the city for the design of the new wastewater treatment plant.
Implications of terminating the Benton contract
If the city were to terminate the contract with Benton and Associates, it would be starting over again. This means needing to develop new design and construction plans.
The City of Nokomis has been in violation of EPA and IEPA rules since November 2022. They’ve only been avoiding fines from both agencies to do having agreements in place with intent to correct these violations.
The main element to these agreements: constructing a new wastewater treatment plant.
If the city were to terminate Benton’s contract, both the EPA and IEPA can file that the city is not meeting its end of the agreement.
The Benton design plan has already received EPA approval. The permits should arrive at any time. Once the permits are received, the project will be let out for bids in September. Estimated construction of the new plant will be roughly around December.
What are the financial and overall implications?
A new contract could delay the project for as long as another two years to reach Benton’s current stage.
The loan from the EPA has already been approved. While the figure was never made public, $2 million of that loan will be forgiven.
Should the process restart, they lose the current EPA loan. As a result, it would be unknown as to whether the city would receive another EPA loan. That is, with the same terms and forgiveness level as the current loan.
Other new business
In building permits, a request for a fence construction at 601 Water and a home addition request at 324 Chestnut were greenlit.
Glenn reported progress with the streets department cleaning ditches, mowing, and treating for mosquitoes.
Arkebauer mentioned the matter of flushing hydrants. The council discussed notifying residents in advance of the flushing.
City revenues and outstanding bills
The city reported $146,973.32 in revenue. The breakdown of the revenue are as follows:
- Ameren Illinois
- Electric taxes – June $4,603.08
- Electric taxes – July $5,726.02
- Natural gas taxes – June $1,635.72
- Natural gas taxes – July $1,496.87
- Illinois Department of Revenue
- Share of income tax $21,156.37
- Share of state use tax $6,482.01
- Business District tax $11,626.44
- Share of cannabis tax $289.49
- Share of telecommunications tax $1,855.93
- Share of video gaming taxes $4,125.05
- Share of personal property taxes $1,324.96
- Share of sales taxes $20,480.61
- Illinois Department of Transportation
- MFT Renewal $3,443.48
- MFT Fund $4,200.74
- Other revenues $53,973.32
The council approved paying bills in the amount of $152,564.90.
In old business, the council would take the following actions:
- Approval of the purchase of two Phillips Automated External Defibrillators (AED) at a cost of $1,465 each
- Approval of the purchase of a VAC Trailer for Public Works Department
- Approval of the surveying of the remainder of the wastewater property
- Awards the bid for the portable generator for the lift stations in the amount of $70,865.12
- The council was in agreement that Morris will obtain more information on the building housing the bookstore belonging to Scott Robinson.
In new business, the council took the following actions:
- Made the appointments of Lance Lehnen to a two-year term and Kirk Pavolka for a four-year term to the Nokomis Planning Commission
- Discussion on the beautification of the downtown area.
No action was taken following a lengthy closed session to discuss the Public Works union contract.
Jake Leonard, a broadcast media and journalism veteran, is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. Leonard is also GM and program director of Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network, wrestling editor and contributing writer for Ambush Sports, a contributing writer for My Sports Vote and Midwest Sports Network, and a former contributor to Bleacher Report and Overtime Heroics. He resides at home in Nokomis, Ill. with his dog Buster.