Residents to more easily challenge their utility bills

RANTOUL — The village board is expected to approve adoption of a new procedure to allow residents to challenge their utility bills.

Village Comptroller Pat Chamberlin said the change will be part of the Illinois Debt Recovery Program, which the board voted to be part of last month through the Illinois Office of the Comptroller.

As required by participation in the program, “we have to provide an option for people (who want to challenge their bill,” Chamberlin said. “If there is a discrepancy, they are entitled to a hearing and a meeting with the village comptroller.”

A resident who wants to contest his or her bill must file a written request within 20 days of the bill being issued.

The village operates its own electric, water, wastewater and natural gas utilities.

Trustee Chad Smith asked, with the installation of automated meters, what process is available to determine the meter is reading correctly.

Village attorney Ken Beth said he assumes there is a way to test meters.

“Also, there’s a history of consumption that will give the comptroller an idea or a reasonable range of where the usage might be,” Beth said.

The board is expected to vote on the measure at this week’s meeting.

Liquor license fees
The board will also be asked to approve new liquor license fees.

Mayor Chuck Smith outlined the proposed increases.

Class A bar licenses will climb from $2,000 a year to $2,100; Class R restaurant from $1,500 to $1,575; P1 package-full from $2,000 to $2,100; P2 package-beer/wine from $1,500 to $1,575; C-club from $1,000 to $1,050; GC-golf course from $2,000 to $2,100; and H-hotels from $1,000 to $1,050.

Temporary license fees will also increase — T1 -education, not-for-profit from $50 to $52.50; T2-adjacent property from $50 to $52.50; T3-village property from $150 to $157.50; and T4-airport property from $150 to $157.50.

Smith said the original proposal was to increase the fees by 10 percent. However, the Liquor Advisory Committee thought that would be too high, so the increase was pared to 5 percent.

He said it has been nine years since the fees were last raised.

Gaming fee
A total of 29 liquor licenses have been issued by the village. Thirteen of those have gaming machines. Most of those have the maximum number of the machines (five).

The Liquor Advisory Committee also recommended creating a flat annual fee of $250 per establishment for gaming machines. Smith said the fee is $50 per machine.

The fee must be paid prior to renewal of the liquor license.

New squad car terminals
The board was asked to approve the purchase of eight Panasonic Cf-31 Toughbooks through a state of Illinois bid from CDS Office Technologies for use in village police cars. The total bid is $34,967.

Police Chief Tony Brown said the department had originally planned to replace five of the units this year and five more next year, “but we were able to save some money by not having to replace the docks,” and money was found in the budget for three additional units. The remaining two will be replaced next year.

Brown said the units are at the end of their life. The computers are used 24 hours a day in all types of weather.

The current computers are out of warranty. Brown said one computer screen recently failed, and the repair cost was $2,000.

Sale of three hangars
The board will be asked to approve the sale of three large airport hangars on the former Chanute Air Force Base to John Van Der Velde of Los Angeles for $3.4 million.

The buyer will be allotted a 180-day due-diligence period to make sure the buildings fit his needs. The village must also secure final deeds for hangars 2 and 3 from the Air Force and a release from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Said trustee Hank Gamel: “This fall will mark, I believe, 25 years of the decommission of Chanute Air Force Base. I would like to commend you guys for a milestone in this 25th year.”

Insurance change
Village Administrator Rick Snider asked the board to approve withdrawal from the Intergovernmental Personnel Benefit Cooperative and to adopt an individual membership in that group in the wake of insurance coverage issues.

Snider said under IPBC, village employees have had continued problems with customer service, repeated unexplained policy terminations despite employees having paid their premiums, and employees not being reimbursed for claims in a timely manner.

He said the village’s membership has not worked from a financial standpoint. The administrator said he believes the best way to remedy the problem is to withdraw from the IPBC pool and to return to a fully insured product.

Snider said a proposal is in place to replace the village’s insurance with better coverage with reduced employee fees.

Engineering agreement
Public Works Superintendent Greg Hazel asked the board to enter into a $19,000 engineering agreement with Fehr Graham, Champaign, to update the plans and specifications for the box culvert and reconstruction of South Murray Road at Chandler Road.

The project would also include specifications to oil and chip the village’s perimeter roadways.

He said the existing box culvert is undersized and needs to be extended to provide the necessary room for proper turning at the intersection. Hazel said the intersection “has become a major safety concern and of the utmost importance to repair.”

CAB member
The board was asked to approve the appointment of Christopher King to the Citizens Advisory Committee for a term to expire in 2021.



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