Champaign City Council discusses budget, wind farms and new weaponry

The Champaign City Council met on Tuesday to discuss the proposed budget for the fiscal year 09-10, as well as, vote on the location of wind farms, new weaponry for the Champaign Police Department, and several alterations to the local roadway and surrounding areas.

In an effort to cut expenses, the proposed budget for 09-10 has propositioned that three vacancies in the police department remain unfilled.

Additionally, in the summer, two police officers are allowed off each day for vacation time.

With the decreased number of police officers on duty, some citizens are concerned that areas will not be properly patrolled.

“I would occasionally like to see an officer come by my neighborhood during the day,” said Mark Medlyn, former police officer. “This is what police officers are suppose to do. Be proactive, no reactive.”

With the recent decrease in revenues in Champaign, the budget does need to be cut. The area to make these cuts, however, is not the police department, Medlyn said.

“The place to cut the budget, in my mind, is not in public safety,” he added.

One area Champaign is adding to, rather than cutting, is alternative energy sources. Wind farms, composed of multiple wind turbines, are proposed to be built in Champaign.

The city voted on resolution that proposed the farms be moved two-and-a-half miles away from the city. A previous resolution had proposed that the wind farms be one-and-a-half miles from the city.

Council members voiced concerns that these wind farms would disrupt residential areas specifically.

“Where people build often has nothing to do with where structures are built,” said Marci Dodds, council member for district 4.

Many people live along the freeway, she said.

“A wind farm certainly can’t be any worse than the whooshes of cars on the freeway,” she added.

The proposal to increase the mandated distance from the city was defeated five to four.

The council also voted on trading in the Champaign Police Department’s weapons and magazines for new ones.

The weaponry, worth approximately $6,000, according to the Chief of Police, would be used as a credit for new weapons.

The resolution was approved by a unanimous vote.

There were concerns about trading the weapons in, however.

“I wonder if we’d be better off eating the $6,000 because we have no control over who eventually gets [the weapons],” said Mayor Gerald Schweighart.

Along with these issues, the council also voted to bring a portion of Mattis Avenue under the rule of Champaign and work with Savoy to improve the design of Prospect Ave. between Linden and Curtis Road.