Hunter named acting mayor in Aledo

Cathy Decker/Staff reporter
Richard Hunter

Richard Hunter, Aledo Ward 2 alderman, was elected unanimously as acting mayor at Monday night's, Nov. 16 city council meeting. Hunter replaces John "Jack" Doherty, who passed away Nov. 7, 2009. Hunter was initially elected to oversee the Committee of the Whole meeting Monday night, prior to the regular city council meeting, then nominated again to chair the regular city council meeting at 7 p.m. Hunter received a third nomination later in the meeting to serve as acting mayor, with all aldermen in approval.

Hunter said he would continue to hold his voting rights as an alderman while serving as acting mayor. Hunter will hold the position of acting mayor until the April 2011 municipal elections. At that time, an election will be held for a new mayor to serve out the remaining two years of Doherty's term. In 2013 the municipal election will be held for a four-year term for the mayor.

After the council was polled for the acting mayor position, and the audience applauded the vote, Hunter said, "I'll do the best I can with the tools I got."

The city council is holding a budget workshop Tuesday, Nov. 17, starting at 5:30 p.m. That meeting is open to the public. City administrator Janice Green said the city will also be voting on next year's tax levy before the year is out.

A lengthy discussion occurred on the Maynard contract for the Old Junior High building.

Questions arose as to whether the law suit had been completely settled, with city attorney Mark Walton saying that since he was not the attorney working on that suit, he didn't know whether or not everything was settled in Mercer County yet.

After the last city council meeting, where the council talked at length about a contract with Maynard on the building, Walton said the city administrator offered a possible problem concerning whether the city had the authority to give the building away, based on the TIF law. "Right now the property is owned by the city," said Walton. An argument could be made that we need to solicit proposals for what is going to happen to that building, he added. "You may draw some objections if it is conveyed without going through a request for proposals."

There were a number of questions brought up such as, does the city still owe the Maynards money for work that has been done on the building? Is there still an open case in Mercer County on this issue?

Green said, "We still have $200,000 (TIF funds) set aside for him."

Alderman Robert Rillie suggested another alternative where the city could sell the property as surplus city property.

Green said that she knew that the mayor had talked to two separate parties about the building. "I know who one is," said Green.

Alderman Tab Balmer said he thought the issue had already been settled to give the building to the Maynards, and was upset that the topic is dragging on and on. "I've sat here several times and said 'Let's get rid of this,'" said Balmer.

Walton said the quicker way to handle the issue is to ask for proposals, rather than sell as surplus property. "It's completely up to the council," he said.

Rillie said they needed to have it verified that the Mercer County suit is finished.

"How much money does Mr. Maynard have in the building?" asked Terry Bewley, 4th ward alderman.

Alderman Rillie pointed out that there have been varying answers to that question ranging from $60,000 to $200,000. "Not less than $100,000," he said.

Rillie said it was important for the council to discover if there is any aspect of the suit that isn't resolved. "The worst thing that could happen is he'd be the high bidder and bid less than what we owe him."

Attorney Walton said the Maynards had 21 days to file a motion for the appellate court to reconsider and 35 days to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court. Both times had lapsed before the Maynards came to the Nov. 2 city council meeting.

According to Rich Regnier, county assessor, the old Junior High building is valued at $155,000, with taxes paid on it at one-third that value, or $51,000.

"The demolition cost exceeded that number," said Rillie.

The council voted to table the matter until the Dec. 7, council meeting, with Alderman Balmer voting 'no,' and Alderman Rich Maynard 'recusing himself for being related.