Buchanan commissioners say goodbye to leaders, prepare for future

Published 3:09 pm Tuesday, October 27, 2020

BUCHANAN – Monday’s Buchanan City Commission meeting featured farewells to Mayor Patricia Moore and Mayor Pro-Tem Dale Toerne, both of whom are not running for re-election as well as action on upcoming personnel moves.

An end date has been set for City Manager William Marx’s tenure with the city. He announced retirement plans last year and has stayed on help in the transition to new City Manager Heather Grace this fall. Marx has been with the city for 15 years, five as police chief and then 10 as city manager.

City Commissioners Monday approved an addendum to Marx’s contract which has Marx staying on to work with Grace through Nov. 15 and then consulting remotely through Dec. 30. Marx will receive his final payment from the city during the second week of January.

Marx was honored with a plaque Monday as were Moore and Toerne. Moore has been on the commission for 16 years and has served as mayor twice, from 2006-08 and from 2018 to the present. Toerne has been a commissioner since 2014 and has been mayor pro-tem for the last two years.

“I want to thank everyone for supporting me and more importantly supporting the city for all these years,” Moore said. “There have been a lot of changes in 16 years and I have been really lucky to be involved. … It’s a super time to be in the city, we’re actually getting fan mail in the city from the Reader’s Digest honor.”

City commissioners also took steps to find two new city department heads. They voted to solicit bids from consultant Larry Nielsen on how much he would charge to help search for a new city treasurer and a new community development director. Nielsen helped the city in its most recent search for a new city manager.

The city has had turnover in the city treasurer position since Juli O’Bryant retired in May. Traci McGrath was appointed treasurer in July but resigned a short time later. Bookkeeper Stephanie Powers has been the interim treasurer since then.

The community development director position would be a new position. That person’s duties will include planning and zoning, economic development, blight remediation and brownfield development. The person hired will also be the assistant human resources director for the city under the city manager.

Commissioners updated the city’s contract with Debra Patzer who has been the zoning administrator, most recently as an independent contractor and not a city employee. The city had had a six-month contract with Patzer but that contract will now be binding only on a month to month basis.

Monday’s meeting featured some movement on the issue of where to locate a new Department of Public Works facility. Commissioners held a joint workshop session with the planning commission prior to the commission meeting to talk about the matter.

Commissioners and planning commissioners in recent weeks have taken actions on one possible new site for the new DPW building on East Third Street in the former Clark Equipment brownfield. Bill and Mack Green are currently building a spec building there for a possible light industrial use.

Monday, commissioners voted to have soil borings and other site surveys done at the current DPW building location and a nearby site at the end of Clark Street. The vote on two motions-for a site evaluation and a request for proposals for soil borings-were approved on a 4-1 vote with Toerne voting no.

Marx said Tuesday that the goal of the work authorized by the commission is to see if the current DPW site will sustain an investment in a new building there. He said if the commission decides to continue on that site, the work would be done in phases rather than all at once.

He said commissioners’’ concerns about using the East Third Street site center around the cost of leasing that building and wanting to keep the building free for private development.

Grace announced that access to City Hall will be limited from Oct. 23 to Nov. 2 in preparation for Election Day. People will only be able to go into the protected area inside the entrance although city staff will be available to meet with residents outside the building.

She said City Hall will be cleaned this week and then next week before and after the election to assure safety for both the public and the staff.

In other action, commissioners approved:

  • An Eagle Scout project by Evan Borgman to repair/restore raised bed planters and place them on a lot across the street from Victory Park.
  • A peace ceremony to be conducted by Chicago area artist Indira Johnson at the Common near McCoy Creek from 2-4 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 1.

The purchase of a leaf baler for $8,000 to aid in leaf pickup efforts and make them more efficient.

  • A contract with BBEK Engineering for $2,125 to do asbestos abatement on the boiler being repaired at the Ross-Sanders House.

The renewal of an annual medical marijuana permit for the Zen Leaf facility on East Front Street.

  • Payment of up to $1,250 to DPM Events to produce a promotional video from the “Nicest Place in America” celebration on Saturday, Oct. 24.