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Thomas Clatterbuck

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The Springfield City Council covered a wide range of topics at last night’s meeting. At the request of Alderman Hanauer, Budget Director Bill McCarty gave a presentation on the use of procurement cards by city employees. Also known as procards, these cards are analogous to credit or debit cards for the city. According to McCarty, procards are much cheaper and faster for the city than checks. The savings from just the removal of physical checks runs in the tens of thousands of dollars, not including the time savings.

Despite these savings, some of the aldermen had concerns about how the cards were being used. Hanauer discussed the purchase of computers that he felt was not following best practice. He also asked why there were not more master contracts for repeat purchases. Alderman Redpath echoed these sentiments, and said that the spending was a concern.

McCarty answered by saying that the issue was with individuals, rather than the payment tool. Money is tight for the city, and it is up to supervisors and directors to make sure that spending is done appropriately. New accountability tools make oversight easier with procards, including a requirement for justifying non-local purchases.  On the computer question specifically, McCarty said he defers to the subject matter experts when it comes to task-specific purchases.

Rezoning for a tavern

One request in the zoning agenda sparked a serious debate about the role of city government in regulating the local economy. The owners of Famous Liquors wanted to rezone their property for a different type of business. This change would allow them to open a tavern in the same location, which would in turn allow them to add video gaming. Video gaming is typically quite profitable, but only some types of businesses are allowed to operate gaming machines.

Alderman McMenamin voiced concerns about expanding video gaming further in the Wabash area. He noted that Springfield already has the highest density of video gaming of any city in Illinois, and worried about the impact adding another location would have on other businesses. Famous Liquors countered, saying they only wanted the right to compete on an even playing field, and the city had no right to pick winners and losers this way.

After a lengthy debate, the council eventually sided with the store and approved the rezoning 7-1-1; with McMenamin voting against and Fulgenzi voting present.

The coyote issue

Several Aldermen brought up the recent coyote sightings in the city. Despite being smaller than wolves and even some dog breeds, coyotes are still dangerous predators. As the city expands, the aldermen wanted to know what animal control can do about them.

Unfortunately, because coyotes are true wild animals, the answer is not much. Animal control is designed to handle stray pets and smaller animals. This is frustrating for residents, because finding someone who can deal with a coyote is often a challenge. The Council discussed strategies animal control could adopt and partnerships with the Department of Natural Resources to better handle this situation in the future.

The Lincoln Interment Books

The lawyers are still working out the final agreement between Oak Ridge Cemetery and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library about the fate of the Interment Books. Retaining ownership of the book that logs Lincoln’s interment in the cemetery is critical to the city, and so they are being particularly careful with what they actually agree to. The books are being “loaned” to the library, not “deposited” there. This may be a distinction without a difference, it is easier to lose ownership of deposited items.

Groups Recognized

The Mayor recognized the Grant Middle School track team, which recently took first place at their state content. He also recognized the Bicycle Advisory Council for helping make the city more bike and pedestrian friendly.

Dentists from the ISDS Foundation discussed the upcoming Mission of Mercy. The Mission will provide free dental care to Springfield residents who may not otherwise have access to a dentist. This event will be discussed more in a dedicated article.

You can watch the full meeting in the player above.

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Senior strategist, statehouse reporter and political correspondent for Springfield Daily. Graduate of District 117 and UIS. Thomas covers stories in both Morgan and Sangamon Counties, as well as statewide politics.

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LIVE | Chatham Village Board Meeting November 13th

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Follow along live with the Chatham Village Board. They will be discussing the village’s finances and pension liability. Next year’s tax levy will also be planned.

Additionally, the Glenwood High School Boys Cross County team was recognized for winning their state contest.

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LIVE | Springfield City Council committee of the whole November 13th

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Follow along live with the Springfield City Council committee of the whole.

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Announcements

Ward 2 ward meeting tonight

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The ward meeting for Ward 2 is tonight at 5:30 PM  at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church (908 S. Martin Luther King Drive). Residents are encouraged to come out to meet with their Alderman, Herman Senor, and Mayor Jim Langfelder to discuss the issues they see in the ward and the city.

If you aren’t sure which ward you live in, please check the online map https://www.springfield.il.us/Citizens/WardMap.pdf.

Don’t live in Ward 2? Check out the dates for other upcoming ward meetings:

  • Ward 2 – Alderman Senor: Thursday, November 8 at 5:30 p.m.
  • Ward 1 – Alderman Redpath: Monday, November 12 at 5:30 p.m.
  • Ward 5 – Alderman Proctor and Ward 6 – Alderwoman DiCenso: Wednesday, November 14 at 5:30 p.m.
  • Ward 9 – Alderman Donelan and Ward 10 – Alderman Hanauer: Thursday, December 6 at 5:30 p.m.

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