At the Grayville City Council meeting held on Monday, Mayor Travis Thompson announced it had been brought to his attention that residents of Grayville were curious as to why Trick-or-Treating for this year was set for Friday, Oct. 30 instead of Saturday, Oct. 31, Halloween night.

Finance Commissioner David Jordan mentioned that at the last meeting, he suggested Friday thinking perhaps residents would like the entire weekend for other activities, but there was no real reason why it couldn’t be adjusted to Oct. 31.

The council unanimously voted to move Trick or Treating to Saturday, Oct. 31 at the same time as previously approved, from 5-8 p.m. 

Both the Mayor and City Attorney Jay Walden maintained that if any resident was not comfortable with this decision, they did not have to participate; they could choose to leave their lights off, or place a sign stating their intentions not pass out candy.

All of these decisions, of course, hinge on the current environment within the state of Illinois. If Governor J. B. Prtizker or the Illinois Department of Public Health, for example, canceled Halloween state-wide or restricted certain areas, the City would have to comply and the Trick-or-Treating schedule would thus have to be withdrawn.

The council unanimously approved to extend and renew Mayor Thompson’s emergency powers originally granted to him during a special meeting on Aug. 27, when they adopted an ordinance establishing temporary executive powers to Mayor Travis Thompson pursuant to Illinois State Statute (65 ILCS 5/11-1-6 and 20 ILCS 3305/11) for the City of Grayville, in both White and Edwards Counties, which shall expire not later than the adjournment of the first regular meeting after the state of emergency has been declared. The ordinance originally went into effect Aug. 27, and the City Council approved to extend it on both Sept. 14 and Sept. 28. The next regularly scheduled meeting is scheduled for Oct. 12 at 7 p.m.

Arlynn Stroman from Botsch & Associates gave a presentation to the council of City’s recent audit, covering May 2019 through April 2020. After the presentation and explanations, Jordan asked her, “even though there’s no findings, any recommendations coming from your office on what we need to do?”

Stroman replied, “…my biggest concern, is the fact that the Sewer Department runs in overdraft situation all the time. I don’t like it.” While most present laughed at this last comment, including Jordan, he affirmed that the City of Grayville did not like it, either.

“I would love to just see a transfer of some money over there, just to show that in a positive light,” Stroman continued. Jordan assured her that changed were made to the current budget, “…which of course is not reflected in tonight’s presentation,” but he also noted that he wasn’t sure if it was still going to be enough to make many changes for at least a year or two. Stroman responded, “if you move in that direction - if I see that positive moving forward, trying to take care of that situation, I’m a whole lot less concerned.”

She then elucidated on how several years ago, Grayville was “…in a mess, as far as our cash and cash reconciliations. I think a lot of that had to do with - we had so many grants and projects…but that has all cleared up. So to answer your question, other than that overdraft…I don’t really see anything major.” 

Jordan then asked her if she foresaw any issues with long-term borrowing or loans, if the City needed to do that in the near future for utility-relate expenses. She directed the council to look at the audit report, where it shows the cash flow of the City - to the extent that it “…shows what happens to your cash throughout the year,” to use in the decision-making process. The questions that need to be asked during that process, according to Stroman, include “what kind of cash do I have available?” and “what kind of cash do we foresee in the future?” as well as, “what have we seen in the past?” She continued, “I think this a good tool to look at…a snapshot of 12 months…” She noted that further in the report, more details are available to determine long-term debt and interest, predicted for the next five years, and then in five-year increments.

“This, in a nutshell, tells you what kind of financing you already have in place, what your debt service requirements are - so regardless of what your operations are, what are you going to add to your debt service requirements in whatever you might be looking at.”

Armed with Stroman’s presentation and answers, the council unanimously approved the Botsch & Associates audit report for the City of Grayville as presented.

The council then approved to have HLR Engineering out of Mount Carmel create an updated zoning map for the City of Grayville. The current map, which resides at City Hall, was created back in 1984. 36 years has changed a lot in not only Grayville, but in the mapping creation process as well. The council approved to pay $800 to HLR for a new map to aid in City planning.

Austin Ridgely, a HLR vice president was also present to discuss the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program grant application process for funding sidewalks on North Street sidewalks. The application is due Nov. 2, and Ridgely promised they could execute the application in the remaining time without any issues. He then explained to the council about the process and the grant itself, reminding the council members that this particular grant is a reimbursable grant program, which according to the Illinois Department of Transportation website, requires an interagency/joint funding agreement that details the project scope of work and cost participation. The project sponsor, i.e., the City of Grayville, must pay preliminary engineering costs up-front and will be reimbursed as the sponsor submits the paperwork documenting implementation.

Local match will be determined once all applications have been scored and the Community Map scores are evaluated, but generally it was an 80 percent State, 20 percent City match, though in some instances it could be less for the City.

Ridley estimated the initial costs for the grant application process could be approximately $3,500, but that number is not yet established because they charge by hours versus a flat fee. He also cautioned the council that though they would have to pay the approximate $3,500 fee to HLR, that did not automatically mean that they were accepted as a grant recipient. He said the earliest time for awardees to be notified would most likely be March 2021. He further noted that after the grant was awarded - if it were awarded to Grayville - it would still look like September 2022 to March 2023 before the project was completed. IDOT does require all ITEP funded projects have all phases of work fully obligated within four years of the award notification letter or funds will be rescinded.

Before adjourning, the council also approved to allow City officials to obtain quotes for a meter-reader and other safety measures for the bulk water operating system. All other old and new agenda items were tabled pending further information.