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Morris budget a wishlist of projects for the city

Vote delayed until next City Council meeting

Mayor Richard Kopczick (left) and Alderman Julian Houston talk before Monday's city council meeting. The council was supposed to vote on the $47 million municipal budget, but had to postpone it until next meeting.
Mayor Richard Kopczick (left) and Alderman Julian Houston talk before Monday's city council meeting. The council was supposed to vote on the $47 million municipal budget, but had to postpone it until next meeting.

MORRIS – In the coming year, Morris should complete improvements at the airport, fully staff the police department and add a bathroom and parking lot to the lower area of Goold Park, among other projects, according to the
$47 million budget that was almost voted on at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Whether they all get done is another matter. Each year, the city budgets for projects, but not all of them get done, City Clerk Carol Adair said. For example, about $15 million worth of projects budgeted for the current year did not get done, meaning that the city was left with about
$24 million in reserve cash instead of the $9 million that was planned for.

“History shows the city spends money responsibly,” Adair said.

Adair summarized the budget for the City Council and others in attendance.

Administration

The budget would help fund 50 percent of the cost for new information technology equipment, some of which is or soon will be taken out of service, at a cost of about $27,000. It also includes a $50,000 donation to Public Action to Deliver Shelter.

Police

The proposed budget includes funds for hiring two or three new officers to make the department fully staffed, along with new IT equipment and two new fully outfitted squad cars.

Streets and alleys

The budget will allow for the hiring of an A laborer to fill a retirement vacancy. It also will allow for two
A laborers to become B operators.

The budget also includes 25 percent of the cost of a six-wheel dump truck for sludge hauling; the purchase of a pickup truck and plow; money toward a Locust Road extension, with $500,000 coming from the motor fuel tax fund; and $375,000 for summer maintenance and crack filling and striping programs.

Parks department

The budget includes $150,000 toward building a bathroom in lower Goold Park and $75,000 for a parking lot in the same location. It also includes funds for new vehicles and equipment.

Water and sewer

The city operates on a water rate increase cycle that goes 6 percent increase, 3 percent and 0 percent. The upcoming fiscal year is a 6 percent increase year. The water and sewer budget also will kick in the other 50 percent for IT equipment and includes increased funds for chemicals owed to the Costco facility.

Water department projects include $22,000 for interior and exterior cleaning of the Route 6 and Route 80 water towers, $35,000 for a switch update for Well 6, and about $530,000 for main line work at several sites.

TIF 1 fund projects

Money from a tax increment finance fund only can be used on certain projects, mostly capital ones.

Proposed projects include $125,000 for a bathroom in lower Goold Park, along with lighting and security, $475,000 for work at the Central Waste Water Treatment plant and $225,000 for rehab and rebuilding Wells 3 and 5.

Swimming pool

Adair noted that the swimming pool is largely self-sustaining and hasn’t increased prices in several years. Projects in the budget include signage, small equipment, security cameras and possibly parkwide Wi-Fi.

During the public hearing portion of the council meeting, only Don Madison of Morris spoke, asking whether there was any money budgeted for a new speaker set in City Hall because it was hard to hear some members of the council speak.

The original agenda for Monday night said the City Council would vote on the budget. However, state rules prevented 1st Ward Alderman Randy Larson from voting on the budget because he owns property in the TIF 1 district. The TIF 1 fund was included in the budget, meaning Larson could not vote or discuss any of the budget.

Instead, the next council meeting April 16 will include two ordinances so Larson can vote on the rest of the budget that does not include the TIF 1 fund. The council will vote on the TIF 1 fund in a separate ordinance. Adair said she thinks the proposed projects are responsible.

“My opinion is that they are there to better the community,” she said.

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