City council: Bar liquor license moratorium extended
Ambulance rate increase approved
ROCHELLE — At its meeting Monday, the Rochelle City Council unanimously approved an ordinance extending its moratorium on the issuance of any new class B (bar) liquor licenses until May 1, 2025.
The council previously approved the moratorium in January of last year and the term lasted until May 1 of this year. The move was made in an effort to limit the number of gaming machines in the city. The city has no control over whether liquor license holders can get a gaming license from the state, but can limit if a business can get a liquor license in the first place, which qualifies it for gaming.
The moratorium exempts all current holders of class B licenses. If a current class B is revoked or relinquished, the limit number of class B liquor licenses will remain a total of 10. The ordinance does not affect any other type of liquor license.
The council unanimously approved a resolution establishing a new emergency service price schedule for the Rochelle Fire Department's ambulance work that will increase current rates by $150 per category when the call for service includes private insurance.
The increase will not impact Medicaid/Medicare calls, which makes up most of RFD's ambulance calls. At least 80 percent of RFD's total calls are Medicare/Medicaid. The city currently bills at the maximum amount that Medicaid/Medicare will reimburse. Ambulance rates were last updated in May 2021.
In comparison to surrounding communities, the city's rates fall in the "middle of the range" and are "considerably lower" than private services.
"State-wide, we're really, really low," Rochelle Fire Department Chief Dave Sawlsville said. "Regionally, we're in the lower middle as far as rates go."
The city estimates the change will generate about $127,000 in additional billable revenue, City Manager Jeff Fiegenschuh said.
"We always work with our residents on their bills and don't send them to collections if they don't have insurance," Fiegenschuh said. "But it is an enterprise and it's a utility that needs revenue and we did just approve a contract to hire six new firefighter/EMTs and one way to pay for it is an increase in ambulance rates, so those of us who don't use it aren't unfairly subsidizing those who do use the service."
The council unanimously approved an ordinance creating an additional class R-2 (restaurant) liquor license for Barrio Agave, a new business opening at 1310 N. 7th St., the former site of El Tapatio and Pizza Hut.
The city received the liquor license request from Alejandra Gonzalez and Jennifer Gonzalez for the business at 1310 N. 7th St. A class R-2 liquor license allows for the retail sale of alcoholic liquor for consumption on the premises by restaurants with no bar, and retail sales of liquor shall not exceed 10 percent of the total sales of all alcoholic beverages.
The council unanimously approved an ordinance accepting and approving a proposal from N-TRAK Group for phase two of its improvements at 14th Street and 8th Avenue in the amount of $721,344.
Phase one of the 14th Street pavement improvements was completed in 2022. Phase two, from 6th Avenue to 8th Avenue and west along 8th Avenue, has been programmed in the 2023 budget. An alternate bid for work along 15th Street south of 8th Avenue was also included in the bid proposal. The project will consist of complete pavement removal and reconstruction of the pavement more suited for the existing truck route. The project will include certain storm sewer, curb/gutter and sidewalk ramp improvements.
N-TRAK Group was the low bid, which in total was lower than the engineer's estimate. The city manager and city engineer will have authority to negotiate further change order work not to exceed $35,000 to facilitate other improvements and upgrades to streets adjacent to the project. It is anticipated the construction project will be substantially complete by the end of August 2023.
The council unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the city manager to enter into a lease agreement with Enterprise Fleet Management to purchase a 2023 Ford F-450 for the Rochelle Municipal Utilities electric department for $21,657. The council has twice attempted a purchase of a truck with the same specifications, but those orders were canceled by Ford. The truck is on the ground and ready to be outfitted with a dump body and snowplow. This truck will be delivered mid 2023 with a lease term of 60 months.
Rochelle Area Community Foundation Executive Director Emily Anaya made a presentation at the meeting on RACF's city employee contribution program, which raised over $32,000 last year and has a goal of $35,000 this year.
Mayor John Bearrows read a proclamation designating the week of May 21-27 National EMS Week in the city and presented it to Sawlsville.
Bearrows and the council also unanimously voted to make May 25 annually in the city Don Vogeler Day. Vogeler served the city as a firefighter, police officer and city councilmember.