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SIBLEY — The Sibley Village Board voted 4-2 to approve a pay increase for village employee Merlin Tjarks during its Dec. 2 meeting.

The vote was taken on a motion to increase Tjarks’ pay by $100 per month for handling village maintenance and water issues. The pay increase was suggested by Village Board President Jim Kearney, who endorsed Tjarks’ work by saying “he does a lot for us.”

Funding for the increase is available in the budget due to a reduction of $200 per month in fees paid to water operator James Howe of Sibley. Howe previously said he did not need all of the hours originally funded for his work to oversee the village’s water supply and chemical treatment.

Trustees Corey Volker and Tim Fillenwarth cast the two votes against the pay increase.

Water, maintenance reports

Also at the meeting, Tjarks said the town used a total of 1.21 million gallons of water during November. Tjarks said the daily average is now about 39,000 gallons, up from a 37,000-gallon average during October and well above the usual 24,000-gallon average.

Tjarks calculated the village’s 30-day loss to be about 300,000 gallons. Despite ongoing efforts by himself and others, Tjarks easily concluded “the leak is getting bigger.”

Assuming that a leak that large should be lowering the inside water pressure for some residents, Tjarks asked that residents notify the village if they have noticed such a drop.

In regards to maintenance concerns, Tjarks noted the need to repair the southeast corner of the village-owned Star Cafe building’s roof due to squirrel activity. Tjarks said the Land Office building will need its windows sealed with tape and trim applied to seal the west door’s air leaks.

Tjarks said he also is concerned with damage to Illinois Street caused in part by heavily loaded trucks traveling from east of the village to get to Illinois 47. Before stronger action is taken, Kearney agreed to ask haulers to use the Melvin blacktop instead of the town route to reach Illinois 47.

Tree service proposal

Sibley residents Brandon Kruse and Marcus Aberle were present to go over a proposal to the village for services from their business, A&K Tree Service.

Kruse, who is currently working to become a certified arborist, assured board members that only tree varieties appropriate to the area would be chosen for replacement trees. Kruse estimated 2-year-old trees to cost $150 to $250 dollars each from a reputable nursery.

The proposal also covers storm damage cleanup terms, with a promise to put Sibley as the firm’s No. 1 priority.

Trustees emphasized that cleaning up existing damaged trees would be their top concern for future funding. Kruse said he agreed that would be safer for all concerned and offered to work ahead on credit to do so, since the village’s budget is currently nearly exhausted until after April 30. A new budget will go into effect May 1.

After making small changes requested by the board, Kruse and Auberle said they will submit a final proposal to the board for possible approval at its January meeting.

Other business

Also at the meeting:

➜ Board members unanimously approved a tax levy for 2019, showing $26,392 to be paid by village property owners next summer. Treasurer Joni Brucker said that amount represents a 5 percent increase over the prior year’s amount. The official levy document will be on display at the Sibley Town Hall, where the board regularly meets, and at the U.S. Post Office in town before being filed with Ford County officials.

➜ Trustees voted unanimously to reimburse Kearney $230 for purchasing fruit, candy, cookies and some novelties to fill more than 100 treat bags to be distributed to children during the holiday season. The Sibley Business & Historical Association was to distribute the bags during “Night Out” festivities on Dec. 7. About 15 of the bags will be given to shut-ins.

➜ The board’s 2020 meeting calendar was approved, showing village board meetings will continue to be held at 7 p.m. on the first Monday of each month. An exception is when the Labor Day holiday interferes with the regular meeting date; Sept. 8 will be that month’s meeting date.

➜ Trustees said they will continue compiling a list of properties to be targeted whenever the updated village nuisance code is approved.

➜ After measuring the city’s burn pile to occupy approximately four-tenths of an acre, trustees approved a payment of $350 to Merlin Brucker for rental of the 3-acre plot.

➜ Village Clerk Laura Peeler announced that singing reindeer are making an appearance at the Peeler residence on 223 E. Ohio St. Visitors are invited to tune their radios to FM 90.3 to hear the music accompanying the dancing lights.

➜ Fillenwarth complimented the snowflake-shaped lights hung in the village’s downtown area.

➜ Kearney asked for and received support of board members to help him hang Christmas lights on the downtown park’s gazebo.