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PANA — During its regular meeting on Monday night, members of the Pana City Council voted unanimously to hire Kirby Casner as the Economic Development Director for the city. The initial contract runs through June 30, 2022.
Pana Mayor Nathan Pastor says he has been working on filling the role of Economic Development Director for several months. The position was vacated when Jim Deere retired several years ago.
“I felt like with all the grants we have to juggle and the posi- tion itself is a top priority – economic development, it was something we really needed,” Pastor said. “And with Kirby working with Pana Pride on the Jack Flash Project, I felt she was a very good candidate for the position.”
Casner, 35, is a Pana High School graduate in 2005. She received her Master’s Degree from Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville in 2021. She has served an internship with Pana Pride and was “handed” the jack Flash Project to develop.
Her goals are to come up with a comprehensive plan for the city and continue with her grant writing. She said she will work to purse new development of Pana and the business district and come up with a plan for development of the Lake Pana area.
Also on Monday night, Council members heard from Rich Hooper accountant with LMHN, Inc. of Taylorville, on the fiscal condition of the city following the audit of fiscal year 2020. He reported a clean audit with the city’s General Fund with a reserve of $738,000.
Hooper said the city’s sales tax revenues grew by over $100,000 to $945,000 for the recent fiscal year. He said this was pleasantly surprising, due to most of the fiscal year cov- ered the time of closure for businesses due to the COVID- 19 pandemic. And, because of those closings, Hooper said video gaming revenues were down for the year, but did not elaborate on how much. The city was also infused with a one-time $241,000 grant from the COVID recovery act from the federal government.
The Water and Sewer Fund is also in good financial shape. The fund has received $306,000 from the USDA Rural Development Fund for work being done at the water treatment plant and spillway at Lake Pana.
Alderman Steve Scott asked if the city could forego a rate increase scheduled for May of 2022, but Hooper said he would not recommend it at this time. He did say, with more expenses coming from more improvements to the water and sewer system. He recommended waiting a couple of years to see how the cash flow is going before considering skipping a rate increase.
Pana Fire Chief Rod Bland said the department has received a grant from FEMA to buy new fire fighting gear for 24 firemen. The grant is for just over $68,000. He also announced the department is seeking two other grants but did not have information on their status.
The city also agreed to receive a $50,000 from Rural Development for a new proposed roof for Pana City Hall. They also authorized Benton and Associates, engineers, to prepare bid specs for the new roof.
Benton was also authorized to begin coming up with plants to replace over 8,000 of the 14-inch main water line from the city’s treatment plant to Pine St. inside the city. Estimated cost for the planning is $30,000. The actual project to replace the line is estimated at $2.35 million.
A change order was allowed to give contractors another 180 days for con- struction on improvements to the water treatment plant/spillway projects. Ben Spreen of Benton explained there is about $60,000 of grant funds left in the construction budget and the extra time will allow contractors to determine if any other improvements can be made instead of returning the unspent fund to the government.
An amendment to the animal ordinance will allow the Police Chief of the city to have a dog euthanaized if it is deemed vicious. Under the current law, it is up to the owner to have the dog euthanaized within 14 days of a hearing which deter- mined the animal vicious. This allows the chief to handle the procedure if the owner refuses to do so.
The first reading of an ordinance for a redevelopment agreement between the city and Durbin Holdings, Inc. (Brunner Auto Supply). It will allow for transfer of property on Locust St. across the street from the hardware store’s current location for development of a new facility. The old Brunner’s is part of the development of the Jack Flash Travel Center.
Tri-R Disposal was awarded a contract to pick up the city’s trash receptacles for a cost of $985 per month. It was determined the city attorney should come up with a contract before the action is finalized.
Approval for the Motor Fuel Tax maintenance schedule was given by the Council. The MFT cost to oil and rock city streets is almost $142,000. Once approved by the state, road work is expected to being in late September or Early October.
An open Scavenger License was awarded to Wallace Refuse and Disposal of Herrick. The company will be looking for residential and business garbage pick ups in the city.
Police Chief Daniel Bland gave an update on a proposed Neighborhood Watch Program. Bland said it has not been implemented because he wants to make sure the program makes a difference. Not only does he want it to prevent crime, he also wants the program to be able to help out in situations where other services could be offered to the offender in the case they are homeless or have a drug addiction.
The Council met in executive session for nearly a half- hour at the end of the meet- ing. When they returned, they voted to approve the contract with the new Economic Development Director and to have the city attorney come up with a contract proposal for an unnamed city employee.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:46 p.m. Next meeting of the Pana City Council is Monday, Sept. 27, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of Pana City Hall, 120 E. Third St.