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Morrison council adopts policy for digital attendance

Group in Springfield today to meet with EPA

MORRISON – Council members don’t plan to use it anytime soon, but they now have a policy for attending meetings by telephone, video or online.

A state statute has been on the books since 2007 that governs electronic attendance. It also calls for public bodies to adopt a policy before using such an option. The council did that Monday by unanimous vote.

Morrison officials said there were no particular circumstances that drove the decision.

“We aren’t planning this to address any particular need,” Mayor Everett Pannier said. “It just creates an ordinance that will let us do it if we needed to later.”

The state statue limits use of the electronic option. To hook up to a meeting electronically, one of three reasons for not attending physically must apply: illness or personal disability; employment reasons or conducting business for the city; a family or other emergency.

The city is responsible for making sure adequate equipment is available for an off-site council member, who must notify the city clerk at least 3 days before a meeting so arrangements can be made.

Members would have all of the same rights when attending remotely. The same policy would apply for all city committee and commission meetings.

Rec advisory board proposal

The council on Monday also discussed a request from Jim DuBois, director of the sports complex, for the mayor to set up a recreation advisory board.

A draft resolution was given to the council to bring back a body that existed several years ago, Pannier said. The mayor believes the existence of the sports complex drives the need to bring it back.

“The sports complex is valuable, and we want to utilize it the best we can,” Pannier said. “Jim is busy, and he could really use our help, so our goal is to have something in place for spring.”

DuBois said that when he started in Morrison, the sports complex was just opening. Now the facility is his main responsibility, but he is still trying to establish a recreation program, work with the schools, and keep up with maintenance in an aging park.

“Making all the decisions for the parks is starting to wear on me,” DuBois said. “I need some input from a group of taxpayers on prioritizing our goals and just making sure we’re all on the same page.”

The advisory board of five to seven members would be appointed by the mayor. DuBois hopes there would be a representative from outside the city limits, and either a college or high school student.

The Morrison parks system has two full-time employees, plus seasonal help.

In 2012, former City Administrator Jim Wise had proposed the creation of a Department of Parks and Recreation to oversee the parks, sports complex and the recreation program, but it never came to fruition.

• • •

In other matters, a small group of city officials will meet with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency today in Springfield about its plans for an estimated $23 million wastewater treatment plant.

“We’re going to have a face-to-face with them on both funding and compliance,” Pannier said. “Hopefully, the outcome is that they understand we need help with paying for it.”

Morrison’s wastewater system is in compliance with EPA regulations, but officials will make sure they are clear on what must be included in the engineering plans for future compliance.

In July, the city decided to delay its wastewater treatment plant project for another year. It is hoped that new financing rules to be implemented next year could bring better loan terms. The city has been looking into grant possibilities and is working with EPA to get a no-interest loan.

Also, a request for the city to consider paying for additional stones at the veterans memorial park was discussed. A veterans group said three or four more stones are needed for names, at a cost of between $3,500 and $4,000 each. The council wants the group to first pursue fundraising efforts for the stones.

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