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City council OKs court, loan actions

by Mark Cheffey

The Palmyra City Council took action Thursday to refinance a utility project loan and to finalize the transfer of the municipal court to the circuit court.

The council voted 5-0 in favor of an ordinance amending a previous ordinance transferring the municipal court to the circuit court in order to make sure it complies with state law.

The changes regarded making certain court costs consistent with state law.

City Attorney James Lemon said it should be the final steps taken to complete the transfer.

He also noted the first court date under the new system was scheduled for Jan. 12.

“It will be a little rough at first, but after a while we should get it pretty smoothed out,” Lemons said. “We’re going to get it all shaken out.”

The city made the move to transfer municipal court as a cost saving measure. Numerous municipalities around the state have either already done so or are considering the move.

The council also voted 5-0 in favor of an ordinance completing a lease-purchase transaction with HOMEBANK concerning a $2.6 million loan the city took out to pay for various utility projects that have since been completed.

By refinancing the loan, the rate was dropped from 3.5 to 2.5 percent, fixed over the remaining six years.

Mayor Loren Graham said he calculated the refinancing would save the city approximately $113,000.

The council approved both the court cost and loan refinancing ordinances in emergency fashion, whereby the council foregoes the normally required two readings of the ordinance over two meetings.

Lemons said it was necessary in both cases because of having to meet time lines dictated by the other parties involved.

In other business, the Palmyra Police Department’s newest officer, Mitchell Carey, of Quincy, Ill., who recently graduated from police academy was sworn into office by Mayor Graham.

Council members praised city departments for their efforts in restoring electricity and cleaning up damage following the ice storm that hit Palmyra New Year’s Day.

“They did an outstanding job,” Mayor Graham said.

“Limb collecting looks to be going very well,” said Council member Earl Meyer.

There was some discussion about the possibility of assigning a city employee the duty of taking the large number of emergency utility calls to the city following such disasters in the future.

It was also noted the Board of Public Works had to purchase a $47,000 piece of equipment during the power outages.

Normally, the BPW has to seek approval for such an expensive purchase, but it was deemed necessary to go ahead with it because of the situation.

Police Chief Eddie Bogue reported his department was approved for a federal loan totaling $10,000 for use in purchasing safety vests and a new computer for one of the patrol cars.

It was also reported the street department had taken possession of a new dump truck.