Council: Heated discussion over trees
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Breeze – Courier writer
TAYLORVILLE — A motion to accept written quotes for the removal of trees on Pawnee Street sparked a heated debate at Monday night’s Taylorville City Council meeting.
A total of 11 trees have already been removed on Pawnee street prior to the meeting. The cost of removal is not to exceed $5,000. The council voted Monday night on paying for the tree removal out of Ward Five funds. Some of the aldermen didn’t feel it was appropriate to accept bids on a service that was already done.
Alderman Kathy Driskell said, “Why are we now asking for written quotes when you’ve already removed the trees?”
Taylorville Mayor Bruce Barry said the tree removals were already approved by Ward 1. “What we’re voting on tonight is to not charge it to Ward 1 but to Ward 5.”
The Mayor said this was an emergency that needed to be completed before school starts later in August.
Mayor Barry said, “My number one issue in this is to keep our school children safe and we needed to get this done before school started.”
Some of the aldermen argued that tree removal process could’ve been delayed to give the council time to vote on the bids and which Ward’s funds to use.
Aldermen Driskell said, “You can’t bypass proper protocol and methods that you’re supposed to do. You can’t just do that.”
Aldermen Chris Skultety said, “School has been out since the middle of may and now we’re trying to push it to right before school starts so we can propose this as an emergency thing that needs to be done for school safety. This is how we do things. This is how things get done over here is to try to push an agenda by pushing it off for so long until its the very last minute and oh no its an emergency. If we wanted it to go to Ward 5,then it needed to wait the week. There’s a process for how this has to be done. ”
Mayor Barry said they were originally waiting on a grant to cut down the trees. They were told at the utility meeting a couple weeks ago that the grant was not forthcoming for a couple years.
Chris Skultety said, “ We don’t agree with having everything done before we approved it. This is multiple times that things have happened on this council without council approval. I can go back. We spent $10,000 on a COVID policy that the council never approved.”
Before everyone voted, Aldermen Skultety said, “Anybody that votes yes for any of this tonight is basically saying you agree with saying that your opinion doesn’t matter, that your vote doesn’t matter.”
Aldermen Megan Bryant, Steve Dorchinez, Chris Skultety, and Kathy Driskell voted no. Mayor Barry, Aldermen Jim Olive, Jeremy Wilson, Doug Brown, and Larry Budd voted yes. The motion was passed 5-4.
After the motion passed, Aldermen Bryant said, “Why even be on this council?”
A motion to recommend to the City Council to allow sidewalk repairs from Pleasant Street to Esther Street with payment to be made using Ward Five funds was passed 5-4. Aldermen Megan Bryant, Steve Dorchinez, Chris Skultety, and Kathy Driskell voted no. When asked for his vote, Alderman Skultety said, “hell no.”
After the motion was passed, Alderman Bryant said, “I hope you guys are proud of yourselves.”
The mayor is always looking out for our young people. Thank you