Keokuk, IA – The Keokuk City Council will have finalize, for a second time, the city's $18,000,000 spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year. Cities and counties in Iowa must certify their budgets by March 15. City Clerk Donna Eilers says Keokuk has had to request an extension from the Iowa Department Management. She says there was an error in the publication notice regarding the date of the budget's public hearing. The hearing was originally scheduled for March 1, but due to a lack of a quorum, the council held the hearing and approved the budget on the 5th.
Fort Madison, IA – A sewer project in unincorporated Lee County is on hold. Argyle residents have been working for years to develop a sanitary sewer system. The project recieved a boost in 2004 when it was awarded a federal grant but that money has yet to be released. Kelly Lewiston is the CEO of Regional Utility Service Systems, or RUSS, which is the multi-county organization overseeing the Argyle project. She says the federal government will not release the money until an engineering plan is completed. Lewiston says that could be finished in about a month.
Macomb, IL – While at least 45 ethanol plants have been proposed for Illinois, a researcher suggests that not all of them will actually be built. Roger Brown of the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs tracks the growing importance of ethanol in the state. He says the design work needed may exceed the capacity of engineering firms that are contracted for projects several years in the future. Brown believes in the short-term Illinois growers will be able to meet the need for corn.
Bushnell, IL – Bushnell has reached a tentative contract agreement with its police force but is waiting for the officers to ratify it. Mayor Steve Russell says aldermen have been briefed on the agreement in closed session, but details are not being released until the pact comes before the council for its vote. Aldermen and police went through two mediation sessions to come up with the agreement. The contract covers five full-time patrol officers. Four are currently working, one is away on military duty.
Springfield, IL – Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is proposing the largest tax hike in state history to help pay for a variety of initiatives. The tax hike is a gross receipts tax on corporations. The governor says it will impact only 25% of the state's businesses while generating $6 billion. He calls it a "Tax Fairness Plan" that closes loopholes and helps the middle class. Republicans contend the plan will end up impacting everyone's pocketbook.
Macomb, IL – There is once again talk about whether Macomb needs to hold a February primary. Fifth ward alderman Tim Lobdell says he'd like to have the city council review the pros and cons of holding a primary. He says the turnout might be higher if the election was held in April, though he's not ready to endorse a change right now. Meanwhile, Mayor Mick Wisslead thinks the city would be better off if it had just one election to worry about. City Clerk Melanie Falk is now reviewing the city charter to determine how Macomb would go about making the change if it should choose to do so.
Keokuk, IA – Iowa residents can start applying for financial help in dealing with last month's severe winter weather. After the ice storm hit, the state set up a $1,000,000 assistance program. Emergency Management Coordinator, Steve Cirinna, says hundreds of households in Lee County could qualify for up to $3,300 in state aid. Residents could be reimbursed for home or vehicle repairs, power restoration, damage to appliances or food, water heater replacement, and lodging expenses. The applications are available through the Iowa Department of Human Services.
March 6, 2007 – The topic is Illinois Senate Bill 0729, which is known as the College Campus Press Act. It would offer student journalists protection from school administration interference at state-sponsored institutions of higher education.