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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.
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.
URBANA – The proposed fiscal 2007 budget for Urbana calls for hiring two additional police officers, a city planner, a reference librarian and a housing inspector.
The spending plan was unveiled Monday morning at a news conference with Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing, Chief Administrative Officer Bruce Walden and Comptroller Ron Eldridge.
Smoking is prohibited in all public and private college dorms, under legislation Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed on Monday.
SB 2465 took effect immediately upon the governor's signature.
URBANA – Safety concerns appear likely to kill a proposal to create an open-air beer garden on the second floor of the city's downtown parking deck.
The deck at Main Street and Broadway Avenue is not designed to accommodate a beer-garden use, where hundreds of people could be sitting or walking on the deck floor, without significant structural reinforcement, said engineering firm Desman Associates of Chicago.
URBANA – Most people who look at the downtown Urbana parking deck see a place to park their vehicles.
Ian Goldberg sees a slice of tropical paradise.
CHAMPAIGN – A survey of the nine-member Champaign City Council shows that the outcome of a proposed ordinance banning smoking in most public places is still too close to call.
Council members Kathy Ennen, Marci Dodds and Ken Pirok look to be the key swing votes at this point, though each has staked out a tentative position. Two of the three would probably have to vote in favor of a ban for it to pass.
URBANA – Gov. Rod Blagojevich was forced to defend a new state financial aid program aimed at the middle class and his support for higher education during a stop at the University of Illinois.
Blagojevich also criticized the NCAA's ruling on Chief Illiniwek and supported his right to use an executive order to grant benefits to same-sex domestic partners of state employees.
SPRINGFIELD – Same-sex domestic partners of most state employees will soon be eligible for benefits, including health insurance, dental and vision coverage, under an executive order the governor filed on Monday.
"This is about fairness and equality," the governor stated in a written release. "I want the people who work for me to have access to good benefits and good health care, and that's what this accomplishes."
CHAMPAIGN – The Champaign city administration doesn't want to see a new public access channel created, but does favor enacting a new 2 percent fee on cable bills to better support the city's government access channel.
Such a tax could generate $225,000 annually for the city.