Farmer City official to use new city-owned car

Farmer City official to use new city-owned car

FARMER CITY – New Farmer City Manager Trent Smith will have nearly full-time use of a new city-owned car, even though it was not part of his original employment contract.

The 2007 Malibu Maxx was purchased from Baum Chevrolet for $14,300 plus license, title and fees. It replaces a car the city was leasing for Smith's use. Mayor Delwin "Buster" Kirby described the purchase at Monday night's meeting as cheaper than the lease.

Various council members questioned if the car would be available for other city employees' use. While he did not rule that out completely, Smith referred to the car as "mostly for me."

Councilman Carl "Chico" Parr said he would like to see the car used to eliminate some of the mileage the city is paying employees, currently at 52 cents per mile.

Saying the vehicle would be used for "economic development" purposes, Smith also said he would use it for daily travel from his current residence in Minonk to Farmer City. He said use of the car is cheaper than the city reimbursing him for the approximate 120-mile daily commute.

Use of a city-owned car is not one of the benefits specified in Smith's December 2007 employment contract. Smith is expected to move to Farmer City and his contract includes up to $3,500 reimbursement for moving expenses within two years of his employment.

In other business Monday, the council approved the recommendation of the tax increment financing committee to give a $40,000 grant to reimburse downtown business owner Randy Perring. The grant will cover a portion of the $89,000 Perring spent on improvements to add a restaurant to the Diamond Tap at 312 S. Main St.

Officials said Perring has purchased the neighboring building and is remodeling it to add two wheelchair-accessible bathrooms, a kitchen and a dining area. The front of the building will be leased to the barbershop that currently occupies the space.

Council members approved an update to its personnel policies. According to Smith, city employees will no longer be paid for unused vacation. He said a policy change about five years ago allowed employees to be paid for up to 80 hours of unused vacation per year.

Smith said the previous vacation reimbursement plan "makes it tough for budgeting purposes."

He described the new plan, effective immediately, as a "use it or lose it" vacation policy.

Smith also announced terminating service to delinquent water or electrical accounts will now be done on a monthly basis.

"There will be no non-termination because it is too cold," Smith said. Even if a meter cannot be pulled because of the cold, the service still will be turned off, he said.

Smith announced the public can submit sealed bids until 2 p.m. on Jan. 31 for a list of previously designated surplus equipment from the city including computer equipment and two vehicles.

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