Urbana City Council welcomes student liaison, passes property tax levy

In a brief meeting of the Urbana City Council, all motions on the agenda were passed unanimously. The council also welcomed Peter Hughes, senior in Engineering, who represented the Illinois Student Senate, or ISS.

This was his first visit as part of the recent initiative by ISS to send student liaisons to city council meetings.

“I just wanted to introduce myself formally,” Hughes said. “If there are any student concerns, I will be bringing them to this body.”

A motion about a property tax levy was presented by Heather Stevenson, Ward 6, and carried unanimously. The levy will increase property taxes in Urbana by a maximum of 4.5 percent from last year. But city comptroller Ron Eldridge said he expects taxes to stay the same or decrease after similar expectations last year were never realized.

Mayor Laurel Prussing announced that a proposed new ward map will be viewable on the Urbana website beginning Tuesday.

“People will be able to comment through the website if they have any suggestions,” Prussing said.

She said the public will be able to see ward population numbers and other relevant information.

Brandon Bowersox, Ward 4, reminded the council that a public hearing regarding the ward maps will be held Monday at 7 p.m. in the city council chambers.

An update on the Urbana-Champaign Big Broadband project, or UC2B, was presented by Bill Gray, public works director. He said updates for the project will now be posted every Friday.

He also announced that on Oct. 29, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., the Urbana Walgreen’s will be collecting pharmaceutical items from people with unused prescription drugs that want to get rid of them in the proper manner.

Gray also declared the Light the Night 2011 free bike light giveaway on Sept. 15 “a very successful night.” He said over 800 lights were given out and expects the city to hold the event again next year.

A resolution for amending the text of the county zoning ordinance was brought forward by Jeff Engstrom, city planner. The amendments increase the standards for Rural Residential Overlay districts as part of an effort to allow for development while protecting farmland.

The council voted unanimously to defeat a resolution of protest against the suggested text amendments.

Finally, in a motion by Stevenson, two appointments were unanimously approved. Eric Jakobsson, Ward 2, will now serve on the Urbana Free Library Board and Gregory Chew, former drama director for the Urbana School District, will now serve as part of the public arts commission.