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Council begins annual library levy process in Sterling

Waiver requested for indoor playground

Published: Tuesday, June 17, 2014 1:15 a.m. CST

STERLING – The City Council adopted a resolution Monday to start a process that allows the library to request its annual property tax levy.

The .02 percent levy by law must be requested by the Sterling Public Library. The building and maintenance tax can only be used for capital improvements.

The levy brings in about $30,000, and it has been requested in the same amount for many years.

“The library has done this annually for a number of years,” Mayor Skip Lee said. “This is nothing new.”

Basically a reverse referendum process, adopting the resolution is the first step. It must then be published within 15 days of adoption. Then another 30 days is allowed for the filing of petitions. Ten percent of the city’s registered voters – 898 – are needed to sign petitions in order to force a referendum in the next general election. If no petition is filed within the allotted time, the council can levy the tax without a referendum.

Uses for the building and maintenance levy include heating and air conditioning units, lighting, and technology upgrades. The brutal winter weather helped create a pressing need for this year’s allocation, said Jennifer Slaney, director at Sterling Public Library.

“We’re replacing sidewalks this year, and we took out some stairs at the side of the building,” Slaney said.

In other action, the council decided to table a request from owner Mardi Ybarra to exclude her business, Fun Jump at 505 W. Lynn Blvd., from the amusements and entertainments ordinance. Ybarra wants fees totaling $340 to be waived, contending that her business is an indoor playground, not an arcade that she believes the ordinance was designed for.

“We do not have arcades or machines at Fun Jump,” Ybarra said. “We believe our playground should be compared to a McDonald’s, and they pay no unit fees.”

Ybarra’s husband, Larry, also pointed out that other businesses rent out bounce house units, and they pay no unit fees under the ordinance.

After several questions were raised by council members, Mayor Skip Lee suggested they take more time to study the ordinance.

“I make a recommendation that we table this until we can answer some of these questions,” Lee said.

The council voted to table the Ybarras’ request until the July 7 council meeting.

Also, the council scheduled a special meeting for 6:30 p.m. June 23 to ratify a proposed contract with the city’s firefighters.

A low bid of $156,590 was accepted from Civil Constructors Inc. for a streets project that will include work along Avenue K from West Seventh to West Ninth streets, and along West Seventh Street from Avenue J to Avenue K.

Next meeting

The Sterling City Council next meets at 6:30 p.m. July 7, at City Hall, 212 Third Ave., on the first floor in the Council Chambers.

Go to www.sterling-il.gov/ or call City Hall at 815-632-6621 for an agenda or more information.

 

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