Paxton police to buy new squad vehicle, sell older ones

PAXTON — The Paxton Police Department will be buying a new squad vehicle to replace one of its oldest.

The city council voted unanimously during its June 12 monthly meeting to allow Police Chief Coy Cornett to spend up to $36,993 on the purchase of a 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe with a “four-wheel-drive pursuit package.”

Alderman Mike Wilson, chairman of the council’s public safety committee, said he expects about $27,000 of the cost to come out of the police department’s vehicle impound fund, which contains about $55,000. The rest of the cost — about $10,000 — would come from proceeds from the sale of two squad vehicles that date back to 2011 and are no longer in service, Wilson said.

Wilson said the 2011 vehicles — the oldest in Paxton’s fleet — have nearly 110,000 miles and 80,000 miles on them. Wilson said he expects to get about $10,000 combined through the sale of the two vehicles, if not a bit more.

The 2011 vehicle with more than 100,000 miles on it is expected to be sold to the city’s public works department this summer, while the other one is expected to be kept until next year or the following year, when it, too, will be sold, Wilson said.

Wilson noted that the 100,000-mile mark is considered the “industry standard” on when to replace a squad vehicle.

“What it really comes down to is 100,000 is kind of the magic number on when it’s costing us more to get service and maintenance on the vehicle than it would be to go ahead and get a new one,” Wilson told his colleagues.

The new vehicle would be a sport-utility vehicle similar to the ones currently used by the police department, Wilson said. In addition to the two 2011 vehicles, the police department has a pair of 2013 models and one each from 2014, 2015 and 2016, Wilson said.

The police department also owns a 1999 Chevrolet Suburban that is “just sitting around,” Wilson said. That vehicle — formerly used as an animal control vehicle — likely will be sold, as well, and probably will not generate much more than $3,000 in sale proceeds, Wilson said.

At the suggestion of City Attorney Marc Miller, the council made plans to vote during its July 10 meeting to declare the two 2011 models and the 1999 model as surplus vehicles so that they can be sold under the terms decided on by the council.

The vehicles could be sold either by public bid, public auction or by authorizing the police chief to sell them for whatever amount he thinks he can get for them, Miller said.

Other business
Also at the July 12 meeting:

➜ The council scheduled a special meeting for 6 p.m. Monday, July 2, at City Hall, 145 S. Market St. During the meeting, the council is expected to approve a prevailing wage ordinance, among other agenda items not yet announced.

➜ The council met in closed session to discuss three items: (1) the employment, appointment, performance, compensation and/or dismissal of one or more city employees; (2) a lawsuit filed earlier this year in U.S. District Court in Urbana against the city by its former police chief, Bob Bane; and (3) collective-bargaining negotiations between the city and the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council, which represents five Paxton police officers. Also discussed was proposed compensation for police department employees related to their licenses, training and “other special items.”

➜ Alderman Bill Wylie, chairman of the council’s finance/budget committee, said the budget for the fiscal year that began May 1 was “99 percent done.” Wylie said he met recently with Public Works Director Mark LeClair, the police chief, Mayor Bill Ingold and Treasurer/Comptroller Tammy Jensen to finalize the budget. Since that time, however, the mayor has indicated that the proposed budget needs to be revised to reflect additional expenses related to the razing of dilapidated homes. The budget will be adjusted accordingly, Wylie said. “It’s a balanced budget,” Wylie said, noting there was “nothing radical we have to worry about.” The mayor noted that the budget contains expenses for repairs to Pells Park’s pavilion. The city ended last fiscal year with $1.6 million in reserves.

➜ The council postponed taking any action on the payment of additional engineering fees associated with a followup inspection of the city’s two newly repainted water towers. In May, engineer Greg Gustafson of Berns, Clancy & Associates estimated that such fees could range from $5,000 to $6,000. Gustafson, however, was absent during last week’s meeting, so the council was not informed of the exact amount and thus was unable to authorize payment. The council made plans to vote on the payment during its July 10 meeting.

➜ The public works department director, LeClair, said a bid opening for road repairs funded by motor-fuel tax (MFT) proceeds would be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday, June 26, at City Hall. Roads to be repaired include a section of Cherry Street abutting Ottawa Road; the 100, 900 and 1000 blocks of East Summer Street; and one block of West Center Street near the downtown.

➜ LeClair asked aldermen to check out the new playground at the Howard Thomas Park on the city’s northwest side. LeClair praised his workers for doing a “great job” on the playground. “They really worked hard on it to make it look good,” LeClair said. “We really improved that place a bunch.” Mulch still needed to be put down around the playground, LeClair noted.

➜ Alderman Rob Steiger said he received a few compliments from residents regarding the flags that were put up downtown over the Memorial Day holiday.

➜ A meeting of the council’s public safety committee was scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, July 5, at City Hall. The committee — comprised of aldermen Mike Wilson, Linda Glad, H.J. Flesner and Bill Wylie — will use the meeting to discuss a potential “burning ban ordinance.” If enough interest exists to create such an ordinance, the council made plans to vote on it during the council’s July 10 meeting. When asked for specifics on what the proposed ordinance would restrict, Wilson, the committee’s chairman, declined to say. The existing burning ordinance restricts residents from burning trash, but the burning of tree limbs and leaves is permitted. Wilson said he does not anticipate banning recreational fires. “I cannot imagine a scenario where we would ban the burning of recreational fires,” Wilson said, “and, personally, I see no reason to ban smaller recreational fires.”

➜ Alderman Eric Evans, chairman of the council’s city property committee, said he expects to schedule a meeting of his committee sometime in July or August.

➜ Alderman Rob Pacey asked that a meeting of the council’s license/permit/zoning/insurance committee be scheduled. “We’d talked (recently) about reviewing the zoning map and the need for some changes,” Pacey said. “There are quite a few locations that potentially need to be rezoned, as well as portions of the zoning code that need to be looked at.”

➜ The council again postponed taking a vote on the proposed granting of a transmission easement to Ameren Illinois. The mayor said he was in contact recently with an Ameren representative about the easement, but the representative was not in attendance at last week’s meeting and had not contacted Ingold with any news prior to the meeting.

➜ Ingold said all businesses that sell alcohol in Paxton must complete Beverage Alcohol Sellers and Servers Educational Training (BASSET) by July 1. Ingold said he sent notices to each establishment in March, and, since then, two businesses had returned certificates of completion of the training for all of their employees. Ingold said that in upcoming days, he planned to visit the remaining businesses to remind them of the approaching deadline.

➜ Ingold said he would be attending a training class offered by the Illinois Liquor Commission on June 26 in Springfield.

➜ Evans asked Ingold if he knew if Paxton would be hosting an electronics recycling event this year. “We’re working on that,” Ingold said. The Ford County Soil & Water Conservation District has sponsored such an event in Ford County in each of the past few years, but no event has been scheduled yet this year.

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