Anna Council covers wide range of matters at Nov. 2 meeting

The Anna City Council addressed a wide range of matters at its regular meeting last week.

The meeting was Tuesday evening, Nov. 2, at Anna City Hall. The meeting’s open session lasted for about two hours and 20 minutes. The meeting included a closed session to discuss personnel and pending litigation.

During the course of the meeting, one member of the council walked out of the session while a proposed private block party was being discussed.

Topics on the agenda included a presentation by the Union County CEO program, approval of ordinances and a resolution related to the city’s new Tax Increment Financing, sometimes heated discussion related to the possible establishment of a private block party policy and  multiple updates by the city administrator.

Union County CEO Presentation

Five students and the facilitator Melanie Smith from the Union County CEO shared a presentation with city officials about a proposed special event which is planned on Small Business Saturday, which is Nov. 27.

The CEO program is proposing to set up a skating rink for public use on Nov. 27, which also is the date for a Christmas in Downtown Anna event in the Union County community.

In addition to the skating rink the CEO Small Business Saturday event would have vendors and other activities.

The CEO program would rent the skating rink, which would be set up in a municipal parking lot along East Davie Street. Public skating would be allowed. Skating tentatively is scheduled to begin in the morning and continue until that night.

The anticipated cost for renting the skating rink is $8,224.27. 

The CEO program has received a $5,000 donation from Aeriz, a medical cannabis grower which has a major facility in Anna. 

The CEO presentation included a request to the city for financial support in the amount of $3,000.

After hearing the CEO presentation, the council first approved a usage request to allow for set up of the skating rink on Nov. 27 in the municipal parking lot.

The council then unanimously approved an allocation of $3,000 for the project. The funding will come from a city festivals line item in the budget.

Tax Increment Financing Matters

The city council unanimously approved three ordinances and a resolution related to the establishment of a Tax Increment Financing, TIF, district in Anna.

The city has been working for some time with Moran Economic Development in Edwardsville on the establishment of the TIF district.

The proposal has been discussed at a number of previous city council meetings. A well-attended public meeting was held in September.

City administrator Dori Bigler said at last week’s council meeting that all of the steps has been taken which were needed leading up to the passage of the ordinances.

The city council approved the passage of the following ordinances and resolution:

Ordinance 2021-21, approving the Anna Tax Increment Financing Development Plan and Redevelopment Project.

Ordinance 2021-22, designating the Anna Tax Increment Financing Redevelopment Project Area.

Ordinance 2021-23, adopting Tax Increment Financing.

Resolution 2021-41, declare a surplus of funds in the Special Tax Allocation Fund for the city’s Tax Increment Financing Redevelopment Project Area No. 1.

The city has worked to establish the TIF program as a multifaceted way to promote economic development and business retention. A TIF fund will be established by the city for such purposes. Funds cannot be used for other matters. Establishment of the district will not lead to a tax increase.

Other Business

In other business at last week’s meeting:

The city administrator reported that Anna has received its official population number from the 2020 nationwide census.

The census numbers were certified by the Illinois Secretary of State’s office.

The census numbers showed Anna with a population of 4,303 people. That number was down from 4,442 in the previous census in 2010.

The city will maintain its current tax levy, which is a rate of .99875.

A proposal to place a speed bump on Baker Street was approved. Vehicles traveling at a high rate of speed have been a long-standing concern at the location.

The meeting also included lengthy, and sometimes heated, discussion about a proposed private block party on Kohler Avenue.

The matter had been presented at a previous meeting by council member Bryan Miller. 

Miller and his wife, who was in attendance at the meeting, were wanting to have a private block party. The plan for the party included the closing of Kohler Avenue.

The plan also included the possibility of bring-your-own consumption of alcohol. 

The city currently has no provisions for such a party. City attorney John Foley had drafted an updated liquor control ordinance which would include provisions for such an event.

Four representatives of Union County Hospital and the Union County Nursing Home were in attendance at the meeting. Concerns about safety, noise and access which might be related to the party and the closing of Kohler Avenue were presented to city officials.

Council member Michael Bigler said that while he is not against the block party itself, he has concerns about the potential exposure to liability which homeowners could have if a block party were held.

Bigler said that the council approaches such matters by looking “at what is good for all the people in the community.”

Council member Martha Ann Webb said she was concerned about the closing of a city street.

Mayor Steve Hartline said he also had concerns about issues related to liability and allowing alcohol on a city street or property.

Several council members also voiced concerns about the possibility of setting a precedent by allowing one private block party to held. They wondered if the city could say no to future requests.

Miller’s wife, Mary K, said the idea behind having a block party “was for us to get to know our neighbors” with “a simple little block party.”

At about an hour and a quarter into the meeting, the Millers walked out of the meeting in anger. 

In the end, a motion was made by council member Webb to approve Ordinance 2021-25 – an updated city liquor control ordinance. The motion died for lack of a second.

In a related matter, proposed Ordinance 2021-25, which would have established a private block party policy, was deemed to be moot. No vote was taken on the ordinance.

The Gazette-Democrat

112 Lafayette St.
Anna, Illinois 62906
Office Number: (618) 833-2158
Email: news@annanews.com

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