EFFINGHAM — The City of Effingham may have approved the selling recreational cannabis in the new year, but its employees better come to work drug free.

The City Council has approved an ordinance that amended the municipal code to state that the City of Effingham will be a drug free workplace. The amendment to a 2011 ordinance that adopted a revised personnel policy manual on Tuesday.

The revision now includes that employees can’t be under the influence of cannabis at work.

According to the ordinance, the city “deemed it to be necessary and prudent and in the best interest of its employees and in the best interest of the citizens of the city to state Effingham will be a drug free workplace.”

According to the ordinance, the city is committed to reducing the problems created by drugs and alcohol in the workplace. For that reason, the city requires that employees be free of alcohol and illegal and legal drugs at all times while on duty.

This list includes among others, medical cannabis, recreational cannabis, and/or alcohol. The reasons for the ordinance is because these items could cause harm to an employee, create a safety hazard for an employee, co-workers and citizens; and cause reduced productivity and costly mistakes.

Drug and alcohol testing may be randomly done with this policy.

In November, the council narrowly approved the sale of adult use recreational cannabis after several lengthy discussions and public input.

Effingham Mayor Mike Schutzbach and Commissioner Merv Gillenwater, both with lengthy law enforcement backgrounds, voted to prohibit the sale of recreational cannabis, while Commissioners Libby Moeller, Larry Micenheimer and Hank Stephens voted not to prohibit the sale, thereby allowing it in 2020.

While there are still matters to be handled before sales can even happen in Effingham, the next step is to have the city make a determination of cannabis business establishment locations, which includes zoning, special-use permits, if needed, and rules and regulations pertaining to the time, place, manner and the number of business establishments.

In other matters at the meeting this week, the council set its tax levy for 2019, payable in 2020. The city’s portion of the levy is 2.5 percent more than it received last year.

City Administrator Steve Miller said the tentative levy amount is expected to be $3.765 million for the city. Including the library’s levy, the full amount is expected to be $4.719 million or 2.68 percent increase. The 2.5 percent increase is estimated to bring almost $92,000 more than it received last year. Including the library’s levy, it is proposed to receive another $32,000 more than last year.

In other financial business, the city received “a clean opinion” on the finances ending this past fiscal year, April 30, 2019, from Auditor Dave Faller with West & Company. General Fund sales tax has increased by 8.9 percent compared to last year; income tax revenue increased by 10 percent; and water and sewer fees decreased by approximately $100,000, or .018 percent, from last year. The city has the ability to operate without any income coming in to the general fund, between 7 and 8 months, he told the council. Most governments want to see at least 90 days worth of funds available at any given time.

This is information that means the city has working cash in the event there was a major change in the economy or income of its revenues, Miller added.

In other matters, the council:

  • Recognized Jenn Alwardt, Effingham Fire Department executive secretary, as the employee of the quarter. She will be included in the running for employee of the year, as well.
  • Recognized Sandi Gillet, Effingham Police Department technical services assistant, for a Special Act Award for going above and beyond her duty in the police records department. She assisted a Chicago man who needed to clear up an outstanding fine from 1966 when he was 22 years old. He went off to serve in the Vietnam War and returned, had his driver’s license renewed several times until the most recently when he tried to get the new Real ID from Illinois Secretary of State, when it was determined there was a fine needed paid from 1966, and his license was revoked. Gillet had to find information and communicate with the SOS to obtain a new license.
  • Approved authorization of the removal of the exhaust systems for fire engines in Station 3 to be placed in Station 2 under renovation. The MagneGrip SBTM systems will be moved by Clean Air Concepts in the total amount of $19,822, in order to remove, relocate and reinstall the current system. Payment for this project will be funded by the 2017 bond proceeds.
  • Discussed an intergovernmental agreement with the Effingham County Emergency Telephone System Board to provide 911 services for the next three years. The agreement will only be put into place if the Effingham County Board also approves the agreement.
  • Heard from Jodi Thoele, Effingham tourism director, that the first weekend at Wonderland in Lights at Community Park drew 600 cars. She added due to some mischief to the lights being unplugged at different times, more security cameras will be added to the display.

Dawn Schabbing can be reached at dawn.schabbing@effinghamdailynews.com or 217-347-7151, ext 138.

Reporter

Dawn Schabbing is a senior reporter at the Effingham Daily News, covering Effingham City Hall, Unit 40, and special projects. A graduate of Lake Land College and Eastern Illinois University with degrees in journalism, she lives in Neoga.

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