MARION — The city of Marion held a special meeting Monday evening to take care of several items of business, but the evening held a couple surprises, too.
Several people showed up to honor and thank outgoing Mayor Anthony Rinella and Commissioners Angelo Hightower and John Goss. A new mayor and new council members will be sworn in at the city’s regular meeting April 22. Goss was not present at the meeting.
Commissioner Jim Webb read a letter honoring the men.
“Thank you to Mayor Anthony Rinella, Commissioner Angelo Hightower and Commission John Goss for your years of service to the city of Marion. We all owe a debt of gratitude to the public servants who sacrificed so much to make the city a better place to raise our families,” Webb read.
The letter also reminded the men to return any keys or property they might have that belongs to the city.
State Rep. Dave Severin spoke next, saying it was his honor to attend the meeting to thank the mayor and commissioners. He said four years ago they were just names in Marion, and he did not know who they were. He said that serving with them has been an honor.
He gave each a certificate from the State of Illinois, General Assembly and House of Representatives that highlighted their years of service to the city.
Hightower served as a Marion City Police officer from 2000 to 2015 and city commissioner from 2015 to 2019.
Rinella served as a Marion firefighter from 1977 to 2009, fire chief from 2003 to 2009, commissioner from 2009 to 2018 and mayor from 2018 to 2019.
“A lot of times we talk about people after they’re gone. I want to present something to people while they are still here with us,” Severin said.
Rinella gave a piece of advice to Mayor-elect Mike Absher.
“When you go to chamber ribbon cuttings, always speak before Dave (Severin),” Rinella said.
Absher spoke next.
“Anthony, I want to thank you publicly. We have had many conversations. They’ve been open; they’ve been frank. You’ve been very helpful, and I’ve been thankful for them,” Absher said.
He went on to say that he has no question in his mind that if he calls Rinella, Rinella will answer his call and help him.
“I will need that, I’m certain … you could have made this infinitely more difficult for me and you’ve made every effort to make it smooth for me. I appreciate that,” Absher said.
“That is one of the hallmarks of America, the peaceful transfer of power. That is something we all should be proud of as Americans,” Hightower said.
The most important item of business was passing ordinance 3512, the budget ordinance for the city’s fiscal year. The fiscal year runs from May 1, 2019 through April 30, 2020.
City Treasurer Steve Hale said the budget projects $45,633,350 in expenditures and $43,312,650 in revenue.
Difference in expenditures over revenues is due to the city spending down fund balances in certain accounts, namely tax increment financing — or TIF — accounts. The budget projects an anticipated surplus of a little more than $102,000, according to Hale.
“It’s going to be tight, but we’re still a lot better off than many municipalities,” Hale said.
A motion was made by Commissioner Angelo Hightower and seconded by Commissioner Jim Webb. The motion passed unanimously.
The council approved an expenditure of $9,530 by the sewer department for an emergency repair of the conveyor belt that carries biosolids from the treatment process out into the storage building.
They approved paying $1,000 to hold an option to purchase property for a new water storage tank for the city. The city has applied for funding through Public Water Supply Loan Program for the project and is awaiting an answer. Hightower voted no on the expenditure.
The council approved two TIF predevelopment agreements on projects at 500 W. DeYoung and 1101 to 1109 N. Highland St. Both locations will house several businesses.
They also approved the hiring of Zach Odum as lead man in the street department. Odum will replace Jeff Pickens, who is retiring.
“We interviewed and did a knowledge test. He had the most experience on everything,” Street Superintendent Doug Phillips said.
Five members of the department applied, so all candidates were interviewed by Phillips, Goss and City Administrator Gail West, and each candidate took a written test. Odum had the highest scores.