City Council approves fiscal year 2013 budget

The Carbondale City Council unanimously approved the city’s 2013 fiscal year expense budget of just over $45 million Tuesday.

The Council also unanimously approved the city’s public library budget for fiscal year 2013 and unanimously adopted a resolution that approved the city’s five-year community investment program.

The city’s 2013 fiscal year runs from May 1, 2012, through April 30, 2013.

The meeting agenda originally included a resolution that would authorize the city manager to enter into contracts that would have disbursed more than $264,000 to community organizations during the upcoming year, but at the beginning of the meeting, Mayor Joel Fritzler announced that the item had been pulled from the agenda.

Fritzler said the item was pulled until all contracts with community organizations could be negotiated.

City Manager Kevin Baity said the city’s proposed contract with the Carbondale Convention and Tourism Bureau is still pending.

The Council also voted unanimously to allow two special use permits.

The first special use permit will allow for construction to expand a landscaping business on a two-acre site agriculturally zoned in the 1900 block of West Sycamore Street.

The second permit will allow construction of a four-unit apartment building at 2220 N. Illinois Ave., which will adjoin five other apartment buildings operated by the owner.  The lot is currently zoned for secondary business, but residential use is permitted as a special use, according to the city zoning regulations.

The Council also approved a 2 percent pay raise for non-union city employees for fiscal year 2013.

The consent agenda was also approved unanimously after an item that would allow the city to fine people for camping on city property without prior approval by the city was removed.

Councilman Chris Wissmann said he was concerned the ordinance, as it is written, could be construed as an attempt to violate free speech if groups such as Occupy Carbondale want to remain overnight on city property as a means of protest.

“I think it’s a solution in search of a problem,” he said.

Baity said that the city doesn’t allow overnight activities on its property, with rare exceptions such as when the Lion’s Club sets up the night before a pancake breakfast.

Councilwoman Jane Adams said she is concerned about increasing vagrancy in the city’s public places, notably at the intersection of Routes 51 and 13 and at Pyles Fork Creek, and that the city need regulations to deal with that problem.

Wissmann said there is a sharp distinction between camping as a legitimate protest and vagrancy.

He said vagrancy is a problem in the downtown area and may be keeping shoppers away but that he didn’t want to see the city criminalizing poverty.

Councilman Lance Jack said he would like to see the procedures for enforcing the ordinance against overnight camping codified and suggested the item be tabled until more research could be done.

 

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