Analysis of changes to building code delivered late to aldermen; vote tabled until mid-January

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QUINCY — Aldermen voted last week to make three changes to an ordinance to adopt the 2018 series of the International Code Council model code for the city’s building code. They voted to remove mandated sprinkler systems, mandated installation of sheetrock underneath the basement mandated installation of a self-closing door from the garage to the house.

However, an expected vote on the complete amended ordinance was tabled until mid-January.

Mike Rein, R-5, asked for more time to read an analysis he received earlier in the day.

“Those of you who have had the opportunity to read it know it’s quite detailed, it’s quite involved and has hundreds of changes,” he said. “I don’t believe it can be reviewed in a few hours. I’d like to table this so we can go through it and study it a little bit more with the side-by-side comparison. It’s really impossible to actually see the full building code.

“Let’s table it at least until the middle of January to give us a chance to review. I’m not saying it’s bad. It’s just a big deal.”

Michael Seaver, director of inspection and enforcement for the city, didn’t believe tabling the ordinance would cause a problem.

“We have an effective date of May 1, so as long as we have some assurance that it’s going to come back,” he told aldermen. “We kind of need to keep the process moving forward, but I don’t have any issue at all.”

Jeff Bergman, R-2, then asked Jeff Mays, director of administrative services, to explain why the analysis Rein referred to wasn’t sent to aldermen three weeks ago.

“Hopefully when a department head has an item on the agenda, they’re able to look at the packet that is sent to the aldermen to make sure that all the information is in there so we are educated before we vote,” Bergman said.

Mays explained information from Seaver for the packet for aldermen should have had four attachments with it.

“Three of those made it into the Nov. 14 packet, but the fourth did not, and that was a very detailed side-by-side comparison,” Mays said. “(Bergman’s) point is well taken. There’s got to be ownership from the staff. That’s including the quality of the packet of materials that you get.”

Aldermen also voted 11-2 in favor of amending the 2022-23 Fiscal Year budget, allowing for additional revenues for operating expenditures for the water fund and sewer fund and an increase in the economic growth fund.

Rein voted against the ordinance. Before the vote was taken, he asked comptroller Sheri Ray how much money the food and beverage tax had brought in during the past 18 months. She estimated that figure was around $1.5 million.

“When we started this thing, we told the public we need $750,000,” Rein said. “We’ve got double that, so it would seem appropriate that we at least, if not kill that tax, cut in half. We’re getting a lot more than we ever expected. We’re doing good things, but we don’t need to warehouse cash.”

Quincy Mayor Mike Troup said $1 million of that money is going to development of the former Kmart property at 36th and Broadway as it is converted into a Target store. 

“We had another discussion earlier today with another developer for another empty big box store, and based on the numbers they shared earlier today, they would be eligible as well for that money,” Troup said. 

“There’s no question government always finds a way of spending money,” Rein replied. “I’m saying we’re spending it because it’s just laying around. We need to give the taxpayers relief. That’s all.”

At the end of the meeting, Troup noted a Dec. 7 ceremony to welcome Southern Airways Express, which will provide flights to Chicago and St. Louis from Quincy Regional Airport beginning Dec. 1. He said Cape Air is still operating under “a technical contract,” but “they seem to be cancelling more flights than they actually are flying.”

Troup also said he recently spoke with Amtrak officials about how a staffing shortage has led to the cancellation of morning trains between Chicago and Quincy until Jan. 16. Amtrak has been offering bus service in the mornings, and Troup said the buses have been running “somewhere within 30 minutes of the normal arrival time.”

“Amtrak’s trying to do the best they can,” he said.

In other action, aldermen:

  • Approved a referral from the Traffic Commission to implement three no parking zones on North 20th — on the west side from Chestnut north to the alley, on the east side 80 feet north from the center of Chestnut, and on the east side 80 feet south from the center of Chestnut. 
  • Approved a request from Craig industries, on a referral from the Plan Commission, to vacate a public north/south alley bounded by South 3rd, Ohio, South 4th and Delaware.
  • Concurred with the Plan Commission’s recommended denial to grant a special permit to Carl Douglas to operate a sober living house in the former Washington School building, 1400 N. Eighth. 
  • Approved a resolution to waive of fees for city water connection and building permits for single and multi-family residential occupancies to offset the cost of installation of fire sprinkler systems, which are not mandated by the city code. 
  • Approved paying the tuition of $15,300 for three firefighters who attended the Illinois Fire Service Institute Basic Fire Academy.
  • Approved leasing terminal building office space to Southern Airways Express LLC at a rate of $1,854 per month. 

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