PAXTON — The Paxton City Council voted 8-0 last Tuesday to approve an ordinance regulating the installation of solar-energy systems on rooftops and in yards.
The city’s planning commission earlier voted unanimously to approve the ordinance.
A permit but no fee will be required for systems ranging from zero to 2 kilowatts. Larger systems will require both a fee and permit, including a $50 fee for a system of 2-10 kilowatts, a $100 fee for a system of 10-100 kilowatts and a $200 fee for a system of more than 100 kilowatts.
Also at last Tuesday’s city council meeting:
➜ Certified public accountant Karen Bojda of Champaign-based Kemper CPA Group LLP presented a report regarding an audit of the city’s finances for the fiscal year that ended April 30. Bojda said the city had a “clean audit report,” even though expenditures heavily outweighed revenues due to the fact the city had to return some $1.2 million in revolving-loan program funds to the state as a result of that program’s discontinuance. She noted that those revolving-loan funds will be returned to the city in the upcoming year to help fund the city’s downtown streetscape improvement project. “But this year it does make it look like you had a net-income loss,” Bojda said. If excluding the revolving-loan funds that were returned to the state, Bojda said there would have been an increase in net position. “So things aren’t as dire as they might look,” she said. The council approved the audit report as presented.
➜ The council voted 8-0 to approve the replacement of the impellers at the Chestnut Street lift station for a cost of $21,627. The expense is in the public works department’s budget, said Public Works Director Mark LeClair.
➜ The council voted 8-0 to approve the extension of public water and sewer lines to a home under construction on Jack Street. Because the city is paying for the utility extensions without reimbursement, the state will waive the $600 in permit application fees typically charged to a municipality, said City Engineer Mike Friend. Alderman Rob Steiger noted that the utility extensions will allow two other undeveloped properties on Jack Street to hook into the city’s utility system whenever they are developed.
➜ Halloween trick-or-treating hours were set for 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31.
➜ The council discussed but took no action on a proposal to install yield signs at the intersection of Maple and Center streets. The unmarked intersection has seen three accidents in the past five years. “I would like to sit and wait and see if (the situation) gets better,” Alderman Kamalen Johnson Anderson said prior to the council agreeing to table the discussion.
➜ Paxton Emergency Management Agency Director Ed Hanson encouraged aldermen to complete National Incident Management System (NIMS) training. The training, although not required to be completed by aldermen, is “highly recommended” by both the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Illinois Emergency Management Agency, Hanson said. Ford County’s EMA also is recommending the completion of NIMS training so that both the county’s EMA and Paxton’s EMA can become accredited and be eligible to receive grants.
➜ Johnson Anderson said that on Sept. 25 she and Police Chief Coy Cornett visited Clara Peterson Elementary School to give a presentation on walking safety and bicycle safety. “It was very well received,” she said. “We had 25 minutes with each P.E. class. ... I gave all the kids in (kindergarten through third grade) a slap bracelet that says, ‘Walk, stay left. Bike, stay right. PBL schools. Home of the Panthers.’” The bracelets were funded by the school’s Parent Involvement Team, she said. Johnson Anderson said the P.E. teachers liked the presentation so much they would like to do a similar one each year.
➜ The police chief introduced Trevor Norris as the city’s newest police officer. Norris, a Bement native, replaced Peter Nicolini, who left to take a job at the Rantoul Police Department. Norris received a round of applause from the audience before saying, “I want to thank Chief Cornett, Mayor (Bill) Ingold, Alderman (Rob) Pacey and everyone on the board for having me, taking me on and giving me a chance, and I’m really excited to serve you guys and the city of Paxton.”
➜ The council voted 8-0 to authorize the installation of an awning outside the Bijoux Hair Boutique, 125 N. Market St. “I think it will look very nice,” Alderman Eric Evans said. “I think it will add to that whole area of downtown.”
➜ Alderman Justin Withers thanked the city’s public works department for providing picnic tables, filling in holes on Market Street and “a lot of behind-the-scenes” work the department did in preparation for the eighth annual Paxton Swine ‘N Dine BBQ Contest & Festival on Sept. 21.
➜ Withers also gave a brief report on the Paxton Area Chamber of Commerce’s inaugural Chocolate & Wine Walk, telling his fellow aldermen that his wife “loved it.” Alderman Deane Geiken, who escorted event participants in a golf cart to and from the various participating businesses, said many were surprised they had “a golf cart to take them from the north end of the town to the south end of the town.” Geiken added that 80 to 85 percent of the people who participated in the event were not from Paxton. “They were from all over the place — as far away as Indiana and from all over central Illinois,” Geiken said. Geiken said “the businesses knocked it out of the park,” calling it an “unmitigated success.” Aldermen suggested the city help more with marketing the event in the future, perhaps by using hotel/motel taxes to advertise it.
➜ The mayor reminded aldermen that the next meeting of the Central Illinois Municipal Official’s Association — an organization for Central Illinois municipalities with 10,000 citizens or fewer — is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 24, in St. Joseph.