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Council approves preliminary engineering for Lake Mattoon project
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Council approves preliminary engineering for Lake Mattoon project


MATTOON — The Mattoon City Council voted Tuesday evening to proceed with preliminary engineering for a new Lake Mattoon pump station with the goal of improving water taste and odor.

The council also heard City Administrator Kyle Gill report on a proposed 2021-22 balanced city budget and heard concerns from two community members regarding city finances. In addition, the council approved a rezoning request for a proposed winery on Lerna Road.

Regarding Lake Mattoon, the council hired Crawford, Murphy & Tilly for $146,450 in water fund revenue to provide preliminary design and cost estimation services for constructing a new raw water pump station in 27-foot-deep water near the dam at the lake's south end.

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Public Works Director Dean Barber said the south end is the only place where the water is deep enough at the city's Lake Mattoon or Lake Paradise to be below seasonal algae growth near the surface and above minerals on the lake floor. He said this new pump station will help prevent the bad taste and odor caused by algae, while providing water security in drought conditions.

During Gill's report, he said the proposed $19.5 million budget is projected to be balanced now that new health insurance numbers are in and the remaining $41,000 deficit has been eliminated. The council will vote on this budget April 20 just before the fiscal year ends.

Mayoral candidate Alex Walker asked about the city's estimation in February of a $276,000 deficit. Gill said the city relies on projections of expenditures and revenues that fluctuate. Walker said he finds it "very convenient" that a balanced budget was announced as the city election neared its conclusion.

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Concerned Tax Payers of Coles County member James DiNaso asked if city officials are considering seeking a 1% sales tax to help with pension costs. Gill said city officials have so far only discussed this option, which would require coordinating with other Coles County taxing bodies and then winning voter approval in a referendum to be put into effect.

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DiNaso said such a sale tax would increase Coles County's total sales tax rate to 8.75%, placing a burden on local shoppers and sending many nearby for Effingham's 6.75% rate to make big purchases.

"Even the fact that it is being discussed is disgusting," DiNaso said.

Regarding the winery, the council approved the request of brothers Cole Pierce and Blake Pierce to rezone 55 acres of farmland at 5600 S. Lerna Road from rural suburban to service commercial. The Mattoon natives have said they hope to open a winery and vineyard there in 2022. They plan to offer a tasting room with food options, a banquet room, and outdoor space to host larger events.

On April 8, 2024, the Earth, Moon and Sun will align perfectly to create a total solar eclipse over North America, the first for many since the eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017.

In addition, the council approved a new collective bargaining agreement with AFSCME, AFL-CIO, Council 31, Local 3821. The union is comprised of about 28 employees in the street, utility, and water and wastewater treatment departments. The four-year contract will have a series of annual salary increases starting in the current fiscal year — 2.25%, 2.5%, 2.75% and 2.5%.

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Other council actions included:

  • Accepting Bartels Construction's $172,986 bid to install new sidewalks along Marshall Avenue from 21st to 25th streets through sales tax capital funds.
  • Paying Matthews & Sons Contractors $30,637 through sewer fund revenue for emergency sanitary sewer repairs that it made March 1 under the Canadian National Railroad near 27th Street.
  • Approving plans for concrete patching at DeWitt Avenue and Sixth Street through motor fuel tax funds.
  • Employing Jedidiah Donaldson and Joshua Welling as probationary firefighters.
  • Promoting police Sgt. Chase Kull to lieutenant and Officer Scott Robison to sergeant.
  • Reappointing Mark Welton to the Police Pension Board; Mark Nelson, Coles County Airport Authority; Tom Graven, Electrical Commission and Beth Wright, Fire Pension Board; and appointing Skylor Harden, Arts Council.

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Rob Stroud is a reporter for the JG-TC, covering the city of Mattoon, Lake Land College, Cumberland County and areas including Oakland, Casey and Martinsville.

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