Columbia discusses budget

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The Columbia City Council held its second meeting without an in-person audience Monday night. 

The first meeting featuring online-only viewing and participation was held March 27 to announce a Declaration of Emergency for the city, a necessary step to allow for modification of meeting guidelines, closure of city facilities to the public and extensions for payments due to the city among other adjustments to government services during the statewide stay at home order issued March 20.

Monday’s remote meeting included discussion of the city’s fiscal year 2021 budget, scheduled for an approval vote during the April 20 meeting.

Columbia City Administrator Douglas Brimm added a precautionary note about the budget, anticipating the COVID-19 situation will “impact tax receipts significantly, especially sales tax.”

Columbia Mayor Kevin Hutchinson added that certain budget items can be changed as needed and that the city has the ability to be flexible and has adjusted to situations in the past.

Nicole Guile

Monday’s meeting was a first for Nicole Guile as the new accounting manager for the city. Guile replaced Linda Sharp, who had been in the position for 12 years.

Sharp retired from the full-time position in March and accepted the role of part-time treasurer for the city.

“I enjoyed the work I did for the city and the dedicated staff of employees who worked for me and others who worked with me,” Sharp said. “I am grateful for the guidance that the mayor, clerk and aldermen gave me and I am also grateful for the opportunity the city gave me to work in the field that I loved.”

In an action item, the council approved a side letter of agreement between the city and the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police that changes residency requirements for Columbia police officers. In order to retain existing officers and attract new candidates, the agreement expands current limits, allowing Columbia officers to reside in a 25-mile radius from the Columbia Police Department headquarters.    

Columbia City Engineer Chris Smith reported that Main Street Streetscape project phases 2 and 3 and the South Main resurfacing project are underway. Work is happening on curb, gutter and side entrances between Whiteside and Oak Streets. Trees and decorative lights have been installed between Cherry and Madison Streets.

Smith announced that Jeff Davis, Lane Yearian and Tyler Ratajczyk were hired by the public works department, pending 180-day review. The department is also seeking part-time summer help.

Before the council went into executive session, Columbia EMS Chief Kim Lamprecht spoke, urging people to wear protective face masks whenever in public and to adhere to CDC safety guidelines. 

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