City of Fulton City Council met Dec. 9.
Here is the minutes provided by the council:
Mayor Ottens called the meeting to order at 5:30 PM and directed the Deputy Clerk to call the roll. On roll call, Aldermen – Keith King, Paul Banker, Sue VanKampen, Dan Nederhoff, Margaret Crosthwaite, Gene Field, and Mike VanZuiden were present. City Clerk Lindsey Nederhoff and Alderman Mask were absent. Also in attendance were City Attorney Bill Shirk, Staff Members - Randy Boonstra, Chief David Bartels, Debi Ervin, Tammy Garibay and the majority of the Fulton Police Department. Media representatives were Daniel Nardini and John Rohlf.
Pledge of allegiance was recited; invocation was given by Pastor Kevin Verhoven.
Visitors signed up for Public Comment included: Kyle Folk, Lucien DeBatty, Jeff Soenksen, Kristin Huisenga, Russ Holesinger and Brenda Mohr (All concerning “Recreational Cannabis”). Sherriff Booker concerning upcoming consolidated dispatching fees and the increase.
Kyle Folk , Kristin Huisenga, Russ Holesinger and Brenda Moore all who are not in favour of the sale of recreational cannabis reiterated their concerns and repercussions if the ordinance is to pass to allow sales.
Kyle again stated there are many other ways that the city can make money other than sales. (Enacting fines for illegal amounts in possession once it passes, driving under the influence and several other suggestions)
Kristin is concerned about the people in the community, especially the “poor”. She stated, “The poorer population were the heaviest of users, which in the long term, makes them poorer.” We owe more support to them - in educating on the effects and usages of the drug; and Fulton and the area does not have the mental health resources to provide for this. We need to vote against this.
Russ Holesinger once again thanked the Council for concern and attention to this matter. He knows it will not be an easy decision for them to vote down for sales. “Please Opt Out!” “We Do Have A Choice!” Russ said medical marijuana is very appropriate, but recreational is a whole other ballgame. OPT OUT.
Brenda Moore is very concerned. Fulton does not have to pass this, she states, “The Federal Law has not even passed it. “ Brenda gave several incidences including adolescent usage, and usage with younger pregnant women. “We must keep this out of the hands of our children.”
Both Jeff Soenksen and Lucien DeBatty of the “Dispensary” both gave positive reasons for the passage of recreational cannabis. Lucien once again told the Council about the numbers on the petition from residents of Fulton, Whiteside County and surrounding areas who are in favour. The petition had over 1100 signatures in support, and pointed out that the other petition that was being signed by residents against the sale had just over 200 signatures. “We cannot change the legislation – IT HAS PASSED.” “Allow the sales so cannabis will be legally regulated from the ground up. Please do not let fear and ignorance sway you.”
Jeff also wanted to remind the Council and the Citizens that the Dispensary, since they have been open, have not had one negative incident that they have had to deal with. They believe that if they are allowed to have recreational sales they will continue to have an impeccable track record! Please reach out to them; they are there to answer any questions and concerns.
Sherriff John Booker introduced himself and wanted to announce to the Council about the upcoming fee increase that is coming for the consolidated dispatching throughout the county. As of May, 2020 there is going to be “equal” billing effective for all Police Departments. He will do his best to make this a gradual increase in fees, but encourages the Council to voice their opinion on the increase.
Sherriff Booker also expressed his gratitude to the Fulton Police Department on the handling of the “Fake School Shooting Tip Incident” that occurred on November 22, 2019. He also commended them on the Department’s fine efforts and outstanding job they are doing in the “Fight against Meth!”
Approve consent agenda; approve council meeting minutes from November 25, 2019 including the Public Hearing Minutes, Regular Meeting, Committee of the Whole Minutes and the December Bill List. Alderman Banker motioned, seconded by Alderman Crosthwaite. No Discussion or Questions asked. Roll call vote – 7 yes - motion carried.
Tourism Coordinator, Debi Ervin gave the recognition to the “Friends of the Windmill”. Earlier this fall they were recognized by the Blackhawk Hills Organization with the “Above and Beyond Tourism Award,” for their outstanding and dedicated devotion to the community. For almost twenty years, 90 volunteers have dedicated their services, knowledge, and devotion in promoting the area. Debi stated, “They are a dedicated group of individuals and good ambassadors for Fulton. Most other community members have mentioned many times, how jealous they are of the individuals. They provide so much for the area, and need to be recognized.”
Jane Orman-Luker expressed how honoured and humbled the group was. It is an entire group of volunteers that make this happen; from Millers to Educators they all do their special parts. Not only managing the Windmill from May through October, they continue to have special programs throughout the winter months. They have hosted individuals from across the world, including, Canada, Germany, Norway, Japan, Columbia and the Netherlands along with so many others. 250-270 individuals attend their monthly programs, all hosted by the Volunteers.
Erin Cole, CRDC President thanked the Council for the opportunity to speak at the meeting. The CRDC is a non-profit organization that works with Fulton and neighbouring communities in promoting new business opportunities, and most important, “Business Retention;” helping already established businesses with whatever needs they may have. Keeping theses companies and their employees happy is crucial. Just recently, when Timken Drives was faced with temporary layoffs, they offered those employees a “job fair” to help find other sources of employment. They are working with the Union Pacific Railway for development of the area in Fulton, and Erin continues to work with City Administrator Boonstra on development of the Fulton Industrial Park. She thanked Mr. Boonstra for the fantastic working relationship he has with the CRDC.
President Cole, reminded the Council of the 66th Annual Anniversary Meeting that will be held on December 18, 2019, at the Wild Rose Casino in Clinton, IA. She is hoping to see all the Council attend.
Approve the Ordinance Abating the Tax Levied for the year 2019 for the General Obligation Bonds, 2012A and 2012B. Alderman VanZuiden motioned, seconded by Alderman Crosthwaite. No Discussion. Roll call vote – 7 yes – motion carried.
Approve the Ordinance Abating the Tax Levied for the year 2019 for the General Obligation Bonds, 2012C. Alderman VanZuiden motioned, seconded by Alderman Crosthwaite. No Discussion. Roll call vote – 7 yes – motion carried.
Approve an Ordinance Amending the number of Class C Liquor Licenses under chapter 111. Alderman VanKampen asks that this motion be tabled. Discussion to follow. Alderman VanKampen would like to see a full business plan from the new business, Mr. Tequila, which will be a full service Mexican Cuisine Restaurant, bar and video gaming. Alderman VanKampen asked if the new business owners were present at the meeting, she would like to have chatted with them not knowing any other information about them. Administrator Boonstra said they were not in attendance, but wanted the Council to know that they already have an established business in Dixon, IL and this would be a smaller version of what they have their. Alderman VanZuiden did not think that the new, potential business should present the council with a business plan, stating it was at, no-risk to the City. Alderman Field would like to see a new business come to town, and said that the Liquor Commissioner, Mayor Mike Ottens would keep tabs on revenues that come in from food, verses liquor and video gaming. Alderman VanKampen asked the Mayor if he had been monitoring sales from Fulton Steak and Ribs, and other businesses in town that have food and video gaming licenses. The Mayor acknowledged that he has monitored it.
Alderman VanKampen removed her “tabling” of the motion. Alderman VanZuiden motioned, seconded by Alderman Crosthwaite. Roll call vote – 7 yes – motion carried.
Approve the Reorganization Plan from Chief Bartels that changed the reporting structure and assignments of the Department. Alderman King motioned, seconded by Alderman VanKampen. Discussion to follow.
Alderman Nederhoff, along with Alderman VanZuiden, both who represent the “finance committee, are not in favour of the change now due to the City’s budget shortfalls. Alderman Nederhoff said, “This is going backwards, we have major decisions to make instead of passing this.” Alderman VanZuiden stated, “he was not opposed to a possible reorganization, but not at this time.” Mayor Ottens stated that this reorganization is adding an additional $6000 to the budget and possible another $1500 with a Corporal position that has been requested. Mayor Ottens asked all the council members to look at the City Administrators report, which shows the overages. “I am not in favour of any unplanned or unfunded request until we fix the budget.” “We just plain do not have the money!”
Alderman King said that this was, “totally not fair, stating the employees had already been paid for one and two pay periods and now we are taking that away.totally unacceptable!”
Alderman Nederhoff said this doesn’t change the fact we are going to be faced with some “hard issues”. “We cannot continue heading in this direction.” “I totally believe that the City does NOT have a Revenue problem, we HAVE a Spending problem.”
Mayor Ottens asks the Council to table this decision until we can get into the budget workshops after the first of the year.
Alderman King said the money is already in the budget - left over from when Lt. Pridemore retired, and taking into consideration that there was money left over when several dependants and an officer came off the City’s insurance plan.
Roll call vote. 5 Yes – 2 No, motion carried.Mayor Ottens veto’s the motion. Mayor Ottens will submit a written decision at the next council meeting defending his decision.
Approve the Recommendation from Chief Bartels to assign personally approved vehicles to take home for himself, the Command ranked Officers and the SRO Officer. Alderman VanKampen motioned, seconded by Alderman King. Discussion to follow. Alderman Banker first of all wanted to know if the City’s insurance coverage will be good with this. City Administrator Boonstra acknowledged that it would. He then wanted to be assured from the Chief that this would strictly be used for business purposes only and no private usage at all. Chief Bartels said, “Absolutely.” Chief Bartels was asked how many incidents within the last year would have benefited the Officers if they had had vehicles at home with them, he replied, “4-6 times.” Alderman VanKampen is worried if they are using their own vehicles they will not have enough time to respond to a situation and their lives might be in jeopardy.
Chief Bartels was asked what the policy would be for the vehicle, when the Officer in question has at his residence, and is on vacation. Chief Bartels stated that anything more than a week it would have to be brought back to the station.
Mayor Ottens has concerns about these vehicles at private residences and duty weapons that are kept inside them and possible moved to the residences with children present. Chief Bartels said there was no way possible for a weapon to be removed from the vehicle without breaking it.
City Administrator Boonstra reminded the Council that this was not pertinent to the City’s Personnel Handbook. City Attorney Shirk said that this would be an amendment but the council does have the authority to change it.
Roll call vote. 5 Yes – 2 No.Motion carried.
Alderman Field motioned, seconded by Alderman Crosthwaite to adjourn to the Committee of the Whole. Roll call vote – 7 yes.
The council entered the Committee of the Whole at 6:40 pm.
With no further discussion Alderman King motioned, seconded by Alderman Field to adjourn. With voice agreement, the council adjourned at 7:51 pm.
Committee of the Whole
1. Public Input & Presentations
a. Request from Council to ask the Zoning Board of Appeals to review and recommend changes to present carport zoning codes. Send to the Zoning Department for recommendation.
b. Recommendation by Administrator and Finance Committee to submit a 4.75% increase for this coming year’s Tax Levy which is due by the 4th Tuesday in December. Put on next agenda for Ordinance vote.
c. Information presented by City Administrator Boonstra on a new law enacted by the State of Illinois, which requires all public buildings with restrooms available to the Public be manned with Baby Diaper Changing Stations. The City currently has at least 11 restrooms that will need stations, resulting in approximately $2400 in unforeseen expenses.
d. Suggestion to reduce Class A Liquor Licenses due to the closing of Paddlewheel/Large One’s business. The city has not officially been notified by Mr. Leonard, but does state that the license will have to be surrendered. As been in the past the Council decided not to have extra licenses available. This will require an ordinance to amend the code.
e. Discussion on the December 19, 2019 vote for an Ordinance to prohibit all Cannabis Operations in the City of Fulton. City Administrator explained to the Council that this will be confusing, but basically a “NO” Vote if you would want the sales of recreational cannabis, and a “YES” vote would say no sales of recreational cannabis. Alderman Boonstra also recommends if the Council should vote “NO”, which will allow sales; that at that point the Zoning Board of Appeals schedules a meeting to work on zoning issues.
2. Committee Chair Reports
a. Budget/Finance- Discussed earlier
b. Public Property- N/A
c. Public Safety-Alderman King and Alderman Crosthwaite along with the Fulton Police Department met with representatives from Albany in considering a merge with both Police Departments. Discussion is just taking place at this time, a meeting will be scheduled in Albany in which Alderman King will attend.
d. Parks & Recreation- N/A
e. Marina- Providing cooperation of the weather, dredging will start at the Marina
f. Zoning- N/A
g. Economic Development- N/A
3. Mayor’s Report- the School Park Ad-Hoc Committee will have a presentation the first meeting in January of 2020
4. City Administrator’s Report- Included
5. Aldermen Reports-Alderman VanZuiden will be retiring from the Executive Committee
6. Public Works Director-N/A
7. Tourism Coordinator- Visitor guides are printed and being distributed, Timken Project for brochures at Lock and Dam 13 is almost complete, and although attendance was down for the Christmas walk, weather was perfect and events went off without a glitch. Heritage Canyon and the Andresen Center had great attendance.
8. Police Chief Bartels – First item – Chief Bartels informs the Council that Officer Flack will be off for approximately 3 weeks due to a broken finger. Chief Bartels an Officer (Sgt) Neblung presents information requested by Alderman Banker and the Council on a breaking down of this past year’s Police budget. Time sheets were analyzed and discussed over the last two year period, month by month by the Officers. Details revealed that excessive overtime was cause due to officer injuries, a brief cover shift scheduling (May-June 2018) that did not work, the new SRO position created and the hiring of an uncertified officer, Jake Willging. The department now feels that they have a handle on the situation, especially with the hiring of another patrol officer. Unless there are unforeseen injuries, or sickness - overtime should be at a minimum. The “Cover Shift”, only operates as needed during the winter months.
Alderman King believes that the Police Department is being “picked on”, and no other departments are audited. He believes that the deficit is not as bad as being presented. The Police Department and several Aldermen believe that extra revenues that are being saved by the retirement of Lt. Pridemore and some savings in the insurance budget by dependent adjustments, along with administrative fees, and fine monies should be put back in the budget for overtime usage and other departmental expenditures.
Both Alderman Banker and Alderman VanZuiden believe that it has been multiple reasons for the increases, possible staffing issues, the SRO position and the canine program all at once has caused the problem. It is the consensus of all the council that “Safety is the number one issue” and we just have to sort out the problem and come to a conclusion during the budget workshops.
Alderman Nederhoff would like to know what other towns of our size have for officers and staff. He would like a comparison of Morrison and Savanna. Chief Bartels said they should bring Galena into the comparison.
Mayor Ottens wants everyone to focus on what’s ahead of us not behind us.
9. Adjourn- Alderman King motioned, seconded by Alderman VanKampen to return back to the regular council meeting and closed session. Alderman King states that all the members of the Police Department along with the FOP Representative go into closed session also. Mayor Ottens states that this is not protocol and we must follow the guidelines. A brief discussion followed and closed session cancelled. Roll call vote - 7 yes – motion carried. The council returned to the regular meeting at 7:50 PM.