With an increase in the number of younger families with children and in traffic to one Metropolis subdivision, the Metropolis City Council unanimously voted Monday to decrease the speed limit in Hilanoa to 20 mph.

“Several residents had contacted the aldermen and city hall and asked what could be done,” said city attorney Rick Abell. “They had safety concerns with speeds, the number of children and the streets being more like alleyways; plus, there were no speed limit signs out there.”

The change takes affect Oct. 11. All roadways in the Hilanoa subdivision will be impacted.

Under new business, the council discussed the pickup of debris around the city. Ward 4 alderman Chad Lewis said he has received several calls from constituents asking when it takes place. Mayor Billy McDaniel explained the route was changed a couple years ago when budget cuts were underway as a way to sufficiently use trucks and manpower.

The debris pick-up schedule correlates between the ward and the week of the month: Wards 1 and 3 are picked up the first and third weeks of the month; Wards 2 and 4 are picked up the second and fourth weeks of the month. When a month has five weeks, the trucks go around the city, picking up what’s missed.

“They’re covering a ward every week,” McDaniel emphasized.

Abell noted there are some cities that either offer the service one a month or have cut it out entirely. McDaniel said he wants the city to provide it as long as possible.

The council approved observing Halloween from 5-8 p.m. Oct. 31. McDaniel emphasized that decision may change depending on COVID numbers.

“On Aug. 26, there were 61 cases in Massac County; as of today (Sept. 28) there are 112,” he said. “There will be some guidelines issued by our safety committee. Trick-or-treating is on the high risk activities listed by the CDC. We’ll have them from all over, not just Massac County. I think this isn’t the best thing in the world. I emphasize people just use common sense — if you have health issues that comprise you, do not turn your lights on, don’t let kids in your candy dish.”

Under the corporate counsel report, Abell addressed questions he’s received concerning electric costs.

“Because of we had so many shutdowns from COVID, our electric rates are going up some — those are the fixed costs of what it takes to get power into the city by the power plants and substations. Those fixed costs are spread out over demand and usage; both of those have been impacted by COVID. Our largest customers — Harrah’s, the schools, the hospital, the nursing homes — were shut down or locked down for several months, so our demand went way down, which resulted in our per capita cost going up. We average that over a rolling three months so it’s filtering it’s way through now. Our percentage increase is coming down and is getting close to budget,” Abell said. “We’re getting complaints of high bills, but when you compare it to last year, they’re very marginally higher — no more than $10 to $15. And that can be attributed to greater usage: it was hot in July and August here; people were home more due to COVID and had things on more than usual. Probably by next month we’ll see it go down. We were fortunate; we didn’t see as big of increases as we thought we might. We’re doing things quite well, all things considered for the year.”

In other business, the council:

• Approved the sale of 515 E. Seventh St. to Guy Brown for $200. Abell said Brown owns the next door corner property and plans to tear both houses down and replace them with a manufactured home. It was the only bid received for the property. The mayor also voted in favor of the sale.

• Approved ratifying the purchase of a 2016 Kubota tractor from Rick’s Auto Sales in the amount of $25,500. McDaniel noted the tractor has 500 hours on it so “it’s something that can be used for a long time.”

• Learned the fall cleanup week will be Oct. 19-23. McDaniel noted this is a one-week event opposed to the traditional two weeks. Under the new disposal collector’s contract between the city and Bulldog Systems, LLC., clean up weeks will be held a week each quarter beginning in 2021, rather than two weeks twice a year.

• Approved proceeding with an EPA loan application for the Waste Water Treatment Plant filter improvement project.

• Authorized HMG Engineers to proceed on street repair recommendations pending a resolution for the 2021 Motor Fuel Tax program.

• Approved the purchase of an influent pump No. 3 impeller from Xylem in the amount of $3624 for the Waste Water Treatment Plant.

• Approved pay application No. 4 in the amount of $43,350 for city pool improvements.

• And, approved flu shots for full-time city employees by Southern Seven Health Department on Oct. 13 with the cost covered by the city.

The council’s next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 13, due to the Columbus Day holiday.

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