Zion-Benton News



Body cameras for Zion police on hold due to budget shortage

By Mona Shannon
Zion-Benton News staff

During citizen comments at Tuesday night’s meeting, the Zion City Council was asked about the status of body cameras for Zion police officers. Mayor Al Hill said the city has investigated the most effective cameras but right now the city cannot afford to buy them. He said the city will soon be making tremendous cuts in the budget. The city is facing a huge shortfall in the budget requiring $1.8 million in cuts.

“[The body cameras] are good for both the police officers and those with complaints against them,” Hill acknowledged.

There will be some grants available from the state for the purchase of cameras but Zion Police Chief Steve Dumyahn said Springfield is still determining the process for providing the grants. “We are waiting,” he said.

Also during citizen comments, Clyde McLemore said that he left the last city council meeting after a dispute with the mayor because he had to go to another meeting but he called Mayor Hill to apologize.

But his reason for speaking Tuesday was to give praise and thanks to the citizens of Zion for donating water for the residents of Flint, Michigan. McLemore said the effort he initiated resulted in two vans each with 500 cases of water and 50 bottles of water for babies being delivered to Flint on Friday. Z-BTHS school board member Tom Handyside drove another 500 cases of water to Flint on Saturday.

Residents of Flint are unable to use their water for drinking or bathing due to lead contamination. Mayor Hill said he asked if this could happen here. Public Works Director Ron Colangelo said no. He explained that Flint’s problem started when it changed its water source from Lake Michigan to the river. He said the majority of lead is typically found between the distribution line and the home. He said the Lake County Public Water District does monthly checks and the city checks twice monthly for bacteria.. He said the city is in year two of the IEPA compliance for lead sampling.

Lisa Isaac encouraged the council and everyone else to support the fund raiser for Amanda Jarrett being held Feb. 6 at the Inn at Market Square. Jarrett, the young mother of a 3-year-old, is battling small cell ovarian cancer. The fund raiser is 6-10:30 p.m. and the cost is $25. She suggested purchasing a ticket even if you cannot attend.

No change in electrical aggregation
The city recently received a letter from Constellation Energy, the city’s municipal electric aggregation supplier, that it will absorb the cost of a capacity performance pricing adjustment and will not increase rates for customers. Municipal aggregation allows the city to bargain for the best electric rates for residents who can then choose to purchase electricity from that supplier or opt out and use a different supplier.

IMRF change
The city council approved increasing to 1,000 hours the number of hours a part-time employee must work before being required to participate in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund. Currently anyone working 600 hours or more must enroll and 4 1/2 percent is deducted from their paycheck for the IMRF fund. The city matches 11 percent. The state now allows a change to 1,000 hours but it applies to new employees only.

Other business
Mayor Hill commented that Commissioner Mike McDowell had set up a sub-committee of taxing bodies who are meeting to determine ways to reduce taxes. He said the group is working in collaboration regarding the spent fuel rods being stored at the nuclear power plant site. He said the effort could cost the city some money, initially $1,000 and probably more later. He said it will be a long process that should pay off in the end.
“There are 2.2 million pounds of spent fuel there,” he said. McDowell said the federal government has set aside funds for the storage of the nuclear waste and the taxing bodies hope to benefit from it.

The council approved a quote of $44,250 from Deigan and Associates for environmental engineering services for semi-annual groundwater analysis, landfill inspection and quarterly reporting for the IEPA permits for the city’s closed landfills. Public Works Director Ron Colangelo said this is required and it is a budgeted item.

Chief Dumyahn asked the council to reject the two bids received for the purchase of surplus police vehicles--a 2008 and a 2003 Ford Crown Victoria--as neither met the minimum bid. He asked the council to advertise again with a lower minimum bid. The council approved his request.

Building Director Richard Ianson said Advance Disposal has notified customers in certain sections of the city with Wednesday trash pickup that their trash will now be picked up on Tuesday. Only those who have received notices from Advanced will be changed.

City Commissioner Jim Taylor was absent.