The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Champaign City Council discusses projects, hears resident’s concerns

Champaign City Council met for a regular meeting on Tuesday, where they voted on bills concerning current projects occurring in Champaign and heard from city residents about their concerns about local occurrences.

The meeting began with an introduction of new Champaign Police Department officers, in which new officers delivered an oath, securing their positions in the department. 

Next, the council heard multiple bills, mainly concerning budgeting and ongoing projects in Champaign. This included allotting money towards street improvement and fuel purchases. 

The council voted to approve an engineering services agreement to improve streets in Champaign. The maximum budget for the agreement allotted $577,993 towards concrete street improvement projects occurring in the area. 

The council also voted to accept a $12 million grant to improve the Downtown Champaign Plaza. Council member Kathy Shannon spoke about the impact of the current renovations on the visual aspects of the community.

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“I just want to encourage our community to go to Engage Champaign to look at the beautiful renderings of what phase two will look like,” Shannon said. 

Next, the council accepted correspondent comments from attendees of the meeting. Several Champaign and Urbana residents used the opportunity to address the council with requests regarding the city of Champaign’s response to local concerns about Palestine. 

Sana Saboowala, doctoral candidate at the University, requested movement from the council on their demands for justice in Palestine. This was Saboowala’s second time addressing the council at a regular meeting about the issue. 

“What we are witnessing now is beyond my worst nightmares,” Saboowala said. “In terms of divestment, there might be some hesitancy about the feasibility of divestment. That’s really why we want this discussed in a study session.” 

A study session is an informal gathering between council members of a city board and interested residents to discuss specific issues.

“It is feasible to do this,” Saboowala said. “Firstly, divestment from Illinois funds and into other securities wouldn’t be too difficult. It’s not a large portion of Champaign’s overall investment portfolio, but it would still make an impact.” 

Former University African Studies librarian and Champaign resident Al Kagan addressed the council on behalf of the Urbana-Champaign Jews for Ceasefire. 

“We need to divest the city’s involvement,” Kagan explained. “We need to speak up against genocide anywhere and right now in Gaza. Doing nothing supports the status quo, the Champaign City Council can be part of the movement of cities across the country and around the world that can be part of stopping the carnage.”

Urbana resident Allan Axelrod voiced concerns about Palestine as well.

“The solutions aren’t that complicated if they are navigated with an awareness of the nuances,” Axelrod said. “If you can regularly commit to talking to folks, from both sides if you must, to understand the situation, you can figure out how to navigate the system that you exist in.”

The council had no follow-up questions or comments to any correspondents. 

The council also heard a budget wrap-up concerning Governor J.B. Pritzker’s proposal to cut a 1% state Grocery Tax. Pritzker’s proposal would affect money from the tax allotted to local governments, potentially losing the city of Champaign around $2.7 million. The council discussed options to increase revenue via tax increases to the Home-Rule Sales Tax, the Package Liquor Tax and the Hotel-Motel Tax.

City Manager Dorothy Ann David completed the wrap-up presentation by proposing multiple underfunded needs of the City of Champaign, including mental health response, infrastructure maintenance and the Downtown Plaza Project.

 

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