Jacksonville Developmental Center, Residency Requirements discussed at last night’s city council meeting

By Gary Scott on January 9, 2018 at 10:05am

Updates on several city projects and waiving a residency requirement for the police chief were discussed at last night’s city council meeting.

The night kicked off with aldermen hearing reports from the city of Jacksonville’s Legislative Consultant Jeff Torricelli regarding various city projects, particularly how the progress of those projects are being effected by action or inaction at the state capitol. Among the issues Torricelli discussed was the progress of the Jacksonville Developmental Center, which has laid dormant since 2012 when the state forced it to close.

Torricelli mentioned to aldermen that his consulting team had been successful passing legislation under former Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, however that success tapered out before any serious movement could be made. Torricelli did however say that he and Mayor Ezard have met with Governor Rauner’s Office, specifically former Attorney General Leslie Munger according to Mayor Ezard to discuss options for the Developmental Center as well as several other projects.

Moving into the regular council meeting, one item that brought discussion was a resolution waiving the residency requirement for Jacksonville Police Chief Adam Mefford, who currently lives outside of the city.

Alderman Don Cook was the only council member to vote no to the waiver, and he explains why he felt it was necessary.

“I wasn’t an alderman when they first lifted the residency issue, and had I been, I would have never been in favor of it then. I just feel that, as city employees, being paid by the taxpayers here through the city, they need to live in the city. This is nothing personal against Chief Mefford, him and his staff have really done a great job. But it’s just one of those things where if you live here and you work for the city, you need to stay here, because the taxpayers are paying your salary and all the benefits, and millions of dollars go out every year for these salaries and benefits,” says Cook.

Voting yes to the waiver was Steve Warmowski, who explains the point he was trying to get across regarding the waiver.

“The city code says that the city council can give an exception for residency requirements for department heads such as the police chief or fire chief. That’s something the city council never did with the former police chief, and I’m glad that at least the city council weighed in on this decision here. That’s not something that the Mayor or anyone in administration, they can’t just waive that residency requirement, that has to be something that the city council has to do,” Warmowski says

Also at last night’s meeting, the council discussed the 2018 motor fuel tax street maintenance program with Jim Burke of Hutchison Engineering. The council also heard a message from Mayor Ezard about seeing what can be done to assist New Directions Warming Center as they are in need of some extra help during this time of the year.