Watseka Mayor John Allhands will look for new direction after a special city council meeting didn’t materialize (Saturday). The mayor said ‘we’ll have to see how the council wants to move forward.’
A special meeting was scheduled to discuss the city's water and sewer system. Mayor Allhands anticipated a closed meeting to legally discuss the current contract with ERH Enterprises. But that didn't happen. The Council instead voted 5-3 not to go into executive session.
Following were brief remarks and then a motion to adjourn.
What happens moving forward, Allhands says, is up to the city council. He said it’s the council members who have to have to make themselves aware of what’s going on, where we’re at, and how we get ready for the future in operating the city’s water and sewer system.
The meeting Saturday, the mayor repeated, was to fact-find; to educate council-members where we’re at and learn from a committee of veteran council-members “our current state of affairs.”
Allhands said the closed meeting, under the Open Meetings Act, allows for contract talks. The city’s current 5-year contract with ERH is reaching the half-way point. Now’s the time, he said, for us to figure out what we want to do moving forward.
The mayor said the city has no offers, no proposals, and no employee candidates to take on the operations of a water and sewer system. He said it’s not a simple start-up process and now’s the time to get wheels in motion to operate a half-million dollar Two years will be here before you know it.
Saturday’s special meeting, Allhands emphasized again, was not to secretly sell the water & sewer system to Aqua. No utility can be sold without public hearings. The mayor said ‘we have three new council members who were not part of the government when talks with Aqua took place earlier. This meeting was to help them learn where we’re at this point.”
Social media remarks and mis-information from City Hall last week, the mayor said, went spinning out of control leading to the wrong information as to what the special meeting was all about.
The end result was the cost of a special meeting that didn’t materialize.
Voting against the closed session Saturday were aldermen: Dennis Cahoe, Mark Garfield, Mona Ullfers, Brandon Barragree and Bev Fosyer.