Alton to tax some natural gas users

October 11, 2013 by  
Filed under Wind Energy Tips

ALTON — People who buy natural gas on the open market will be subject to a city usage tax the city will impose, following Wednesday night’s City Council vote.


Aldermen approved the utility tax ordinance amendment, establishing a tax of 1.1 cents per therm used. The tax only is for customers who do not buy their gas from Ameren, and thereby already pay a city tax. The tax also does not apply to a distributor, supplier, furnisher, seller or transporter of the gas.

In another energy-related issue, the council also approved an ordinance amending Alton’s Zoning Ordinance regulating renewable energy systems — namely, solar panels and wind turbines. The vote was 5-1, with 3rd Ward Alderman Mike Velloff voting “no,” and Alderman Gary Fleming, 6th Ward, absent.

At the Sept. 25 City Council meeting, Velloff had moved to send the draft ordinance back to the Plan Commission on first reading because he does not want solar panels allowed in historical districts or to be visible from the street.

His motion failed, only getting support from Alderwoman Carolyn MacAfee, 2nd Ward.

Businessman Dawud Mohammad, president of MS Solar Network and Associates of Alton, asked to speak on the ordinance, although he did not follow procedure to sign up by 5 p.m. Wednesday in the City Clerk’s Office. The council unanimously voted to allow Mohammad to speak.

His company sells and installs solar panels.

As he had said at the Sept. 25 meeting, Mohammad asked that the process for someone to get a special-use permit and letter to proceed to get the panels be expedited so as to take less time than the current estimate of 90 to 120 days.

Matt Asselmeier, deputy director of community development and housing, explained that the Plan Commission meeting must be set, posted in the newspaper, and then the commissioners’ recommendation goes to the Committee of the Whole, then to the City Council for first and second readings and vote.

“If the calendar doesn’t fall in your favor, it could take 120 days,” Asselmeier said.

Dissatisfied with the answer, Mohammad said, “This ordinance needs review; you need to go back and create an expedited process. This creates a problem. I am going to talk to the state.”

The only other ordinance the panel passed establishes a handicapped parking space in front of 1013 E. Fifth St.

During the personnel portion of the meeting, aldermen approved Mayor Brant Walker’s appointment of Tammy Smith to the Alton Beautification and Clean City Committee. The mayor also proclaimed Oct. 6 through 12 as Fire Prevention Week in the city of Alton. He urged citizens to heed safety tips, noting the National Fire Protection Association’s theme for Fire Prevention Week, “Prevent Kitchen Fires.”

He gave the proclamation to Fire Chief Bernie Sebold, who was accompanied by 13 firefighters from the Alton Fire Department.

“I want to thank you guys for your service,” Walker said. “I really appreciate it.”

The department is holding an open house from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Don Twichell Memorial Station (No. 1), 333 E. 20th St., in commemoration of National Fire Safety Week.

In a repeat of Monday night’s meeting of the aldermanic Committee of the Whole, members OK’d resolutions effecting approval:

- of the draft Americans with Disabilities Transition Plan regarding city facilities used by the public being brought into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The matter will come back for council approval in ordinance form.

- for officials to pursue legal action to effect demolition of a house at 1015 Easton St.

- to accept demolition bids — Supreme Trucking and Excavating of South Roxana, for 26 E. Sixth St., $8,275; GLC Inc. of Alton, for 1810 Jersey St., $5,785; and for 2447 Seminary St, $6,250.

- to accept the low bid from Bush Termite and Pest Control for treating numerous city-owned buildings.

Except for the renewable energy ordinance, all of the other votes were unanimous in favor.

lweller@thetelegraph.com

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