Urbana City Council to discuss fee allocation

The Urbana City Council will continue discussing several ongoing issues at their committee of the whole meeting Monday and will review social service funding applications before the regular meeting.

Preceding the regular city council meeting, aldermen will review applications submitted by service groups looking for grants to provide funding.

Charlie Smyth, Ward 1, said $315,000 was awarded to the service groups last year, and about $300,000 will be given out this year. He said the grants often serve as “seed money” for organizations who need to prove that the community supports their cause when applying for larger grants.

Typically, the grants are given to the park district and senior programs among others; however, senior programs receive a “large chunk” of the money, Smyth said.

During the regular council meeting, Smyth said the most heavily discussed item will be an ordinance establishing a stormwater utility fee and a dedicated fund for its operation. Urbana and Champaign have been discussing the possibility of the fee since October 2011.

Smyth said the fee would bring in $1.6 million in addition to the $800,000 budget Urbana already maintains. The extra money would be spread out over several areas within the city. Smyth said about $75,000 would be allocated toward residents who cannot afford to pay the fee. About $200,000 would be put into the city reserves, which have been nearly depleted after $2 million was used for landfills and $500,000 was spent during the recession to keep the city afloat. The leftover $600,000 would be put toward the capital improvement plan where the funds would be used to repair roads and sanitary sewers among other things.

Smyth said there has not been enough money in the budget to perform maintenance around the city, but he said “it cannot be deferred any longer.” With the additional money, Smyth said the city will be able to “tackle twice as much.”

He said this item will most likely be sent to council for approval.

Council members will also discuss an update on the public arts program and discuss the possibility of a grant, which would allow the park district to construct a multiuse path in the newest park called Weaver Park. Smyth said it is also possible that council members will continue to finalize the city goals discussion from last week’s meeting.