NOKOMIS — The Nokomis City Council heard the results of its annual fiscal audit during its August 28 regular session. All members were present with the exception of Commissioner Lou Stauder.
Whitey Patton of Patton and Company would present the annual audit report to the council.
He suggests that water and sewer should be moved into its own bank account and separate from the general fund. He believes that it would make the next audit easier. With grant and loan monies coming in, it would be easier to track the money.
In addition, Patton would advise the council to take advantage of higher CD rates to earn more interest by consolidating some funds. By comparison, he said that CDs are paying roughly 5 percent interest compared to the 1% for money market accounts.
Revenues are up compared to previous years. However, at the same time, expenditures are also up. With that on the record, Patton recommended that the city keep enough funds on hand to continue operations for 14 months in case of emergency.
Caught in a financial pickle
With two upcoming projects in the near future, it creates a financial pickle that the Nokomis City Council doesn’t need to be in.
One of them relates to the construction of the new wastewater facility. In the previous meeting, Commissioner Michael Glenn suggested terminating the contract of Benton and Associates for another firm.
Had they opted to change firms, the city would have broken an agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency. This, in turn, would include the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. There were looming fines worth well into the six-figures until the city and Benton were able to make a preliminary agreement nearly 18 months ago.
The current planning phase for the new wastewater plant has been ongoing for slightly over two years. If a new firm came in, it could take 16 to 24 months to get to the current stage.
They also have a lift station improvement project on the way. Between the grant administration, bid assistance, and the early construction phase, the city is already on the hook for nearly $200,000.
Former library space leased to IDOT
The former public library space will have a short-term tenant in 2024. For a period of six months, the Illinois Department of Transportation will be using the space as a field office due to looming work in the area next year.
There was no research on the square footage or how much they could get to lease it out.
However, a motion to lease the space for $650 a month was approved for that time period.
Leasing police vehicles compared to buying them outright
There was a discussion on a vehicle lease program for the police department. There’s only one squad vehicle that’s actively available to officers. One is in the shop, and the other is completely out of commission.
Mayor Dylan Goldsmith asked Police Chief Talon Burton to bring in hard numbers for future consideration.
Under a lease program, all repairs throughout the lease would be covered by the manufacturer warranty until a certain set mileage (e.g. 50,000 miles). Once the warranty expires, they will have to rotate out the vehicles in hopes that another department might purchase them outright.
No action was taken on the matter.
Business relating to Nokomis city council agendas
Two motions relating to city council agendas were on the docket.
The first allows any commissioner the right to place items on the agenda for discussion and/or action. Goldsmith expressed his vocal opposition to the resolution. His belief was that this would usurp his power as mayor.
He notes that only of the duties of the mayor is to protect the city’s interests. Another is to keep the city out of any litigation whenever possible.
He further states that keeping certain items off the agenda protect the city from potential litigation. In addition, he said that when items are not allowed, more information is required before the council can discuss the matter or take action.
Goldsmith was the lone dissenter in the vote, as Glenn, Tisha Morris, and Scott Arkebauer voted in the affirmative.
Morris and Arkebauer presented reasoning before their votes, stating that this would not be necessary had there been better communication between the mayor and commissioners.
The other related to circulating to commissioners a tentative agenda one day earlier than they normally do. Currently, commissioners receive a tentative agenda on the Friday prior to the meeting. The motion would have made that agenda available on the Thursday prior to the meeting. It would die for a lack of a second.
Downtown Nokomis beautification efforts
The council approved several items related to beautifying the downtown business district.
The first was for painting the electric poles black. The second one was for the purchase of mounting brackets to the poles for hanging planters and hanging baskets. They will be holding flowers in them. The cost relating to the hangers and basket come to a total of nearly $7,800. The third and final was for the approval of purchasing flowers and plants from Nokomis Gift and Garden.
All three motions were unanimously approved, contingent on where they source the funds from. If they cannot squeeze the funds from either the general fund or the business district fund, alternative measures might need taken.
Other business during the meeting include:
- A discussion on the property at 113 W. State. There are ongoing issues with a shared wall between Nokomis FunShop and its current neighbor. Owner Scott Robinson is working on his part of the matter. However, attempts to reach the other property owner next door have proven unfruitful. Morris will continue to reach the other owner in hopes of working out a solution before someone gets injured.
- Benton and Associates presented an update that they should receive their EPA permits in September. Bids will be solicited on September 14. They will be opened on November 1 with a winning award announcement in early December. December is the expected start of the new wastewater plant construction.
- The city has purchased 10 catch basins at a cost of roughly $5,000.
- The council reported $42,797.15 in revenues and approved $110,152.42 for outstanding bills.
- A permit was approved for the Downtown Nokomis Association for its Trunk or Treat event on October 28. The streets for the eastern and southern sides of Fred B. Johnson Park – S. Spruce and W. Union – will be closed for the event.
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.