Posted Online: July 14, 2014, 10:16 pm

Colona council, mayor argue over legal bills, minutes

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By Lisa Hammer,

COLONA – Mayor Rick Lack and aldermen continued a standoff on legislative counsel bills and who should take meeting minutes.

Mayor Lack vetoed a council-approved bill for $1,115 bill from Ancel, Glink, Diamond, Bush, Dicianni, citing a Second Appellate Court ruling and saying he didn't believe the council legally could hire the firm. Aldermen have said they hired the firm to advise them on council votes.

On Monday, Ald. Trish Ruhl, 3rd Ward, said the court opinion cited by Mayor Lack later was overruled by the Illinois Supreme Court. She said Colona's administration book allows the council to retain other counsel to advise or render service as other cities do.

The mayor said he would not debate the issue.

Mayor Lack also told aldermen he has responded to the Illinois Attorney General about an alleged Open Meetings Act violation and aldermen can submit their own responses.

Also on Monday, aldermen voted to have Mayor Lack appoint someone other than the city clerk take minutes. City attorney Graham Lee said state law requires the clerk to take minutes, but the council could have a second person also take them. Ald. Larry Ropp, 3rd Ward, suggested having city staff transcribe verbatim accounts from audio recordings of up to five past council meetings. The verbatim accounts would be for council review and in response to the alleged Open Meetings Act violation.

Ald. Ruhl said the state's deadline for a response is Friday.

Mayor Lack said Colona did not have the staff to make the transcriptions. Ald. Ruhl suggested an intern, and Ald. Ashley Stover, 2nd Ward, volunteered college students who contacted her Monday seeking work. There was no explanation how they would distinguish the voices of nine aldermen, Mr. Lee, Mayor Lack and the city clerk on an audio recording.

Also on Monday, aldermen:

-- Learned a disaster drill originally on the Hennepin Canal scheduled this week will now be Aug. 9.

-- Approved a resolution of support for a Henry County enterprise zone in a 4-4 vote with Mayor Lack casting the tie-breaker; Ald. Ropp voted "present".

-- Discussed a property line question between Indian Trails/Colona's Scott Family Park and neighboring Rock River Electric, which owns the former Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church property.

-- Discussed the absence of a deputy clerk appointment that three people have rejected.

-- Discussed paying the city treasurer an hourly rate in addition to her monthly rate of $560 for any work over 40 hours a month. Ald. Ruhl will ask state officials if Colona can raise yearly hours from 600 to 1,000 without paying in to the retirement fund.

-- Noted two pre-construction meetings planned at city hall: 8:30 a.m. Wednesday for the U.S. 6/East 550th Road alignment and 9 a.m. Friday for the Third Street canal crossing.

-- Approved a special-use permit for Terry Douglas' ammunition reloading business.