All Politics and Government Content

All Politics and Government Content

Special use approved for ethanol plants

URBANA – The Champaign County Board has unanimously voted to allow ethanol manufacturing plants as a special use in the heavy industry zoning district.

Board members approved the zoning ordinance amendment in a 22-0 vote Thursday night.

Blagojevich signs bill releasing funds for Medicaid debt

SPRINGFIELD – The state will transfer hundreds of millions of dollars from special purpose funds to help pay down some of its mounting debt to Medicaid providers.

The office of state Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka promised to make the fund transfers, worth about $250 million, "within days," after Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed a Senate bill into law Friday ordering the transfers to be made immediately.

Smokers welcome, cities say

That big cloud of smoke you see leading out of Champaign-Urbana could be the trail of smokers driving to restaurants, bars and bowling alleys in neighboring communities.

City and village leaders in Gibson City, Gifford, Mahomet, Monticello, Paxton, Philo, Rantoul, Savoy, St. Joseph, Tolono and Villa Grove all say they have no plans to follow Champaign's lead in passing a comprehensive smoking ban, which will be effective Aug. 1 if Urbana approves a similar ordinance in the next several weeks.

Idea for sidewalk cafes sits well with businesses

CHAMPAIGN – Jim Harty thinks allowing outdoor cafes along Green Street can help his business.

Harty, general manager of Potbelly's Sandwich Works, 501 E. Green St., C, has a few tables in front of his restaurant only because the building was purposely built set back a few feet from the property line to allow for limited outdoor seating.

Bradley Avenue fixes will be made

CHAMPAIGN – The crumbling pavement of Bradley Avenue between Mattis Avenue and Duncan Road will be replaced or repaired during the next two years, at a cost of up to $3.2 million.

The Champaign City Council this week, in a 9-0 vote, gave tentative approval for the work. The money will mostly come from the extra $5 million in the fiscal 2007 city budget that city officials hadn't designated for specific spending.

State Senate hopeful offers relief proposal on gas prices

Illinois government should do more to address the soaring price of gasoline, state Senate candidate and Champaign County Auditor Mike Frerichs said Wednesday.

"Over the last month, it has become the biggest issue when I'm out talking to people, especially outside of Champaign-Urbana," said Frerichs, a Democrat from Gifford.

Smoking ban hot topic of conversation

CHAMPAIGN – The Champaign City Council vote was a close one – 5 to 4 council members in favor of the smoking ban – so perhaps it is no surprise reaction to the ban was also mixed.

When bartender Eileen Ford arrived at the Brass Rail on Wednesday morning, the smoking ban was already a hot topic of conversation.

Bar owners express concerns

CHAMPAIGN – Though it was to no avail, a number of Champaign bar owners warned Tuesday that a comprehensive smoking ban will hurt their businesses.

The city council voted 5-4 Tuesday to enact a comprehensive smoking ban in public places, including restaurants and bars, effective Aug. 1. Urbana is expected to enact a similar ban next month.

Champaign City Council OKs smoking ban

CHAMPAIGN – Champaign City Council member Ken Pirok played his cards close to his vest in recent days, declining to say whether he would support a comprehensive smoking ban in Champaign.

He stayed mum Tuesday night while several other council members explained the rationale behind their positions, as debate went on well past 11 p.m.

Sales tax increase in Urbana proposed

URBANA – A proposed quarter-cent increase in the city sales tax is included in Urbana's proposed fiscal 2007 budget.

Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing said Monday she is recommending the sales tax increase, which would generate $590,000 annually, to offset a $250,000 decrease in city utility tax income that occurred when the University of Illinois began generating more power from its own Abbott power plant instead of purchasing it from Ameren-IP.