City of Fulton City Council met Nov. 25.
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, Barb Mask, Sue VanKampen, Dan Nederhoff, Margaret Crosthwaite and Gene Field were present. City Clerk Lindsey Nederhoff and Alderman VanZuiden were absent. Also in attendance were City Attorney Bill Shirk, Staff Members - Randy Boonstra, Dan Clark, Dwayne Hamilton, Dale Sikkema, Debi Ervin, and Tammy Garibay. Media representatives were Daniel Nardini and John Rohlf.
Pledge of allegiance was recited; invocation was given by Pastor Wayne Wiersema.
Visitors signed up for Public Comment included: Kyle Folk, Lucien DeBatty, Barb Frantz, Debra Brown, Dave Rose, Arlene Rose-Considine, Jeff Soenksen, Kristin Huisenga, Andrew Byard, and Brenda Mohr (All concerning “Recreational Cannabis”). Mr. Corey Council asked to comment on zoning for carports.
Mayor Ottens adjourned to the scheduled Public Hearing, Resolution of Support and Commitment of Funds for the 8th Street Project.
Mayor Ottens turned the Public Hearing over to Mr. Dan Pepin of Community Funding & Planning Services who have been active in the recovery of Revolving Loan Funds from the State of Illinois and DCEO. The Resolution of Support and Commitment of Local Funds states that the City does hereby commit funds from the 2019 Bond Fund for use in conjunction with an Illinois Community Development Block Grant, such funds to equal 57% of the estimated total project cost of $748,450, or $426,993.
Citizen participation signup sheet included: Dave Rose, Jane Orman Luker, Barb Frantz, Gene Field, Margaret Crosthwaite, Dan Nederhoff, Mike Ottens, Bill Shirk, Sue VanKampen, Barb Mask, Paul Banker, Keith King, Randy Boonstra, Dan Clark, Dave Bartels, Dwayne Hamilton, Debi Ervin, Dale Sikkema and Tammy Garibay.
Dan Pepin asked for citizen comment – no questions asked.
Public Hearing Closed and returned to the scheduled Council Meeting at 5:45 pm.
Returned to the Regular Council Meeting and proceeded with Public Comments concerning the use of Adult Recreational Cannabis.
Kyle Folk stated that it would be a very “poor reason” for the City to approve the use of adult cannabis, just for the “so called” reasons that property values would increase and that there would be more potential jobs in the area, when in fact it would only create more work for the local Police Department, Emergency Personnel, and increase the number of addicts and users. He also stated the differences in cannabis of today compared to the cannabis in the 70’s. Cannabis today is hybridized over 20 times compared to cannabis decades ago. “We do not have to sell”….look for other opportunities for income.
Lucien DeBatty stated there were over 1100 signatures on the petition to allow the sale of cannabis. 277 of those signatures were from within the City of Fulton, 480 within Whiteside County and the rest coming from other local communities. “Why wouldn’t you want this….under strict control by the state, cannabis will be regulated, unlike what filters around the “Black Market”.
Barb Frantz stated that she is in total favor of medical cannabis, but if we are to pass the sale of recreational adult use cannabis we will be opening up a large can of worms. Vote, No.
Dave Rose, a citizen of the area, who also is a ski instructor in Colorado spoke on the effects that the legalization of cannabis has had on that state. Dave states that the crime rate and accidents have gone up. The area that once was beautifully landscaped now is covered with tents and homeless individuals, due to the legalized sale of cannabis. People come from all over to purchase cannabis, spend all their money and then do not have any money left to support themselves, resulting in homeless living. Mr. Rose stated that the homeless rate has tripled since the legalization of cannabis.
Arlene Rose-Considine wants to know, “Why would any community want this mind alternating drug in their hometown?” “The City Council should only pass clean, reasonable laws, not this!”
Jeff Soenksen, General Manager of the Dispensary in Fulton, stated that he worked in Breckenridge, CO before coming home to the area. In that District, there were also 22 liquor licenses. Not one time during his employment in selling recreational cannabis legally did he get a “fake id”, due to the strict identity regulations. Can’t say that when it came to the sale of liquor. Here in Fulton, the same strict regulations will take place. He also reminded the audience that the Dispensary works closely with the Fulton Police Department and has never had an issue since they opened. “Consumption will take place regardless of whether the sale is legal or not, so why not regulate it and receive the revenue from the sales.legally.
Kristin Huisenga stated that sometimes, “good parenting” is not enough - kids misbehave regardless. Parenting is not the question….we need a community that will stand up and say no. Shouldn’t we be fair to the people that do not want this?” “1 in 10 people that use marijuana become addicted, and we have no mental health resources in the area to help treat the problem.”
Andrew Byard, who is a store manager in Steamboat Springs, CO sells legalized cannabis stated that they have not had one bad incident in their store. Yes there are pro’s and con’s on legal cannabis but it is the individual’s own responsibility to do the research. Andrew said that in Steamboat Springs, X amount of dollars from the sale of cannabis goes into a local emergency fund used for addiction and mental health services, and that fund has never been touched, due to the lack of need.
Brenda Mohr from Clinton is concerned about the effect of legalized sale of cannabis and what effect it will have in the Gateway Community. She would like the Council to hold back….wait 5-10 years and see what happens in other areas. We are entitled to a cleaner lifestyle and better environment, than selling cannabis. Brenda commented on several aspects of marijuana verses alcohol use, today’s designer pot, and effects of cannabis usage. She is willing to discuss the facts of usage with anyone in the audience, and hopes that you reach out to her.
Mr. Corey Council, owner of Custom Sheds in Fulton, IL has asked the Council to reconsider it zoning codes on the construction of carports within the city limits. Mr. Council has constructed many carports in the area and would like to see the Fulton Ordinance changed to allow for carports. Mayor Ottens asked for Zoning Officer, Dale Sikkema to research this.
Approve consent agenda; approve council meeting minutes from November 11, 2019 and November 16, 2019 along with the October 2019 Treasurer’s Report. Alderman Mask motioned, seconded by Alderman Crosthwaite. Discussion to follow. Alderman Field asked that he be added to the Roll Call on the November 11. 2019 meeting. Deputy Clerk Garibay, acknowledged and will make the change. Roll call vote – 7 yes - motion carried.
Approve Resolution of Support and Commitment of Funds for the Project commonly referred to as “The 8th Street Project”. Alderman Field motioned, seconded by Alderman Banker. No Discussion. Roll call vote – 7 yes – motion carried.
Approve recommendation from the Mayor to appoint Tom Henschel to a vacant seat on the Zoning Board of Appeals. Alderman VanKampen motioned, seconded by Alderman Field. Discussion to follow.
Alderman Mask asked if Mr. Henschel was in attendance. Mayor Ottens said he was not able to attend this meeting, but assured the Council that Mr. Henschel was a newer resident and had contacted him with the interest of being on the board. Mr. Henschel has served on a Zoning Board previously and does have experience. With no further discussion, roll call vote – 7 yes- recommendation carried.
Approve the rescheduling of the December 23, 2019 meeting to December 19, 2019. Motioned by Alderman Field, seconded by Alderman Mask. No Discussion. Roll call vote – 7 yes – motion carried.
Approve Christmas bonuses for all full-time and part-time employees. Alderman King motioned, seconded by Alderman Mask. No Discussion. Roll call vote – 7 yes – motion carried.
Approve Ordinance enacting and adopting a Supplement to the Code of Fulton (Codification of City Ordinances) and declaring an Emergency. Alderman Mask motioned, seconded by Alderman Crosthwaite. No Discussion. Roll call vote – 7 yes – motion carried.
Approve the Proposal from Moring Disposal to transition to Curbside Garbage Pickup. Alderman Mask motioned, seconded by Alderman Crosthwaite. Discussion to follow. Alderman VanKampen stated that she has had numerous calls from citizens in her ward concerned about the placement of the new toters. Mr. Moring said that the company is willing to work with any handicapped or elderly citizen that cannot get the toters curbside - if they submit a Dr.’s note stating they are not physically able to make the moving transition from alley to curbside. Alderman Mask is very happy that the yard waste program will stay the same. Alderman King is concerned with busy, narrow roadways and curbside pickup. Mr. Moring explained that this happens in all other towns and cities and they do have experience on how to handle these types of situations. With no further discussion, roll call vote – 7 yes – motion carried.
Alderman Mask motioned, seconded by Alderman VanKampen to adjourn to the Committee of the Whole. Roll call vote – 7 yes. The council entered the Committee of the Whole at 6:35 pm.
With no further discussion Alderman King motioned, seconded by Alderman VanKampen to adjourn. With voice agreement, the council adjourned at 7:52 pm.
Committee of the Whole
Mayor Ottens is requesting that Dan Nederhoff from the Finance Committee brief the Council on budget issues prior to the Police Department recommendations.
Public Input & Presentations
a. Recommendation to add a Class C Liquor License for “Mr. Tequila”. The business will be located on the south end of the Dan Dolan building site located just off Route 84. The business will be a full service Mexican cuisine restaurant and bar. More than 60% of their sales will be from the restaurant. They currently have another location in Dixon, IL and would like to expand to the Fulton area. Will add to next agenda for a vote.
b. Introduction of Ordinances required annually for the Tax Abatement of General Obligation Bonds. These ordinance are approved on an annual basis along with the Tax Levy. Will add to next agenda for a vote.
c. Finance Committee Report – Alderman Dan Nederhoff. (Alderman Mike VanZuiden, not in attendance to tonight’s meeting). Alderman Nederhoff commented on a significant shortfall in the budget; expenses increasing at an alarming rate verses revenues taken in. Concerning the committee is that the Police Department budget has increased substantially, and are way over. Police Department expenditures at the 7 month mark are now 60% of the entire City budget. “We cannot continue at this rate. This needs every Aldermen’s attention, this is relevant and serious.”
d. Chief Bartels recommendation to approve his reorganization plan for the Police Department. Mayor Ottens questioned the issue of Police Department overtime and what is considered the “Cover Shift”. Mayor Ottens said monies to cover these overages is coming out of the General Reserve and it needs to cease. We cannot sustain at paying 45-50 hours of overtime each pay period. This problem has to be addressed. Officer Hamilton said the cover shift would cease during the winter months unless absolutely necessary. There is no scheduled overtime as of now. Mayor Ottens said effective immediately there would be no scheduled overtime.
Chief Bartels reorganization plan eliminated the lieutenant position and has replaced it with 2 sergeant positions. One being an investigative sergeant (Officer Neblung) and the other being a street sergeant (Officer Hamilton). These promotions were awarded due to a 3 man panel of interviewers, consisting of retired officers and officials from different departments. A $3000 stipend to be added to their base pay is awarded with each promotion. These promotions will be considered and voted on by the Council, on the next agenda. Mayor Ottens questioned why there had to be 3 layers of management in a 8 man department. (One Chief of Police and 2 Sergeants) “Is this necessary?” Chief Bartels is also considering in his reorganization plan a Patrol Corporal position to be determined at a later date, with a $1500 stipend. Mayor Ottens asked Chief Bartels how does the appointments of the officers relieve your duties? Chief responded that it will help him concentrate on the budget. Chief also stated he has seen the difference in morale with the officers due to the Sergeant positions.
Aldermen VanKampen and King commended the Police Department on the handling of the School incident this past week, on their quick response and actions.
Alderman Banker asked for details, stating he wanted to find out where the problem of overtime and excess spending started. “It should not be that difficult to figure out!”. The council would like to see details on credit card expenditures, overtime and other explanations of budget overages from ALL departments.
e. Chief Bartels recommendation to approve a plan allowing himself, the command rank officers and the SRO Officer to personally approved vehicles at their disposal to take home.
Chief Bartels explained the advantage of each officer having their personal gear in a vehicle and the vehicle in their possession at all times (at home) would allow for faster response times in case of an emergency.
Mayor Ottens said he had an issue with the newly purchased Chevy Tahoe that is not in use for patrol. It had been mentioned prior to purchase that a new vehicle was needed due to the issue with the Dodge Chargers in the fleet not being dependable. So why is this new vehicle only being used by one officer and not the entire department, if needed. In addition, City Administrator Boonstra pointed out that this would be a total revamp of the City Personnel Handbook, “CITY VEHICLES.” An amendment to the handbook would have to officially occur prior to this decision.
Alderman King requests a closed session to discuss personnel. May be added to the next council agenda.
2. Committee Chair Reports
a. Budget/Finance- Discussed earlier
b. Public Property- N/A
c. Public Safety-N/A
d. Parks & Recreation- N/A
e. Marina- All boats have been lifted and stored for the winter.
f. Zoning- Carports and the accessory code to convene to the Zoning Board of Appeals
g. Economic Development- N/A
3. Mayor’s Report- N/A
4. City Administrator’s Report- included – Mediacom Changing Rates for internet usage
5. Aldermen Reports-N/A
6. Public Works Director-N/A
7. Police Chief- N/A (Presentation Above)
8. Tourism Coordinator- Working hard on the upcoming Christmas Walk. The new visitor guides will be ready for printing within the next couple of weeks.
9. Adjourn- Alderman Mask motioned, seconded by Alderman Crosthwaite to return back to the regular council meeting. Roll call vote - 7 yes – motion carried. The council returned to the regular meeting at 7:50 PM.