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Mural Funding Approved; City Code on Closed Meetings Updated
Mural Funding Approved; City Code on Closed Meetings Updated

There was no evidence of past political battles over downtown murals at this week’s Springfield City Council meeting. Aldermen quietly approved 50,000 Tax Increment Finance (TIF) dollars to help pay for several murals that will go up on downtown walls.

It will help Downtown Springfield, Incorporated’s Artification project — which seeks to decorate several walls in downtown buildings with various murals, some depicting Abraham Lincoln, others farmers markets and others with a non-specific art-deco theme promoting the city.

Mayor Mike Houston says he won’t veto it.

“It was passed on a unanimous 10-0 vote, and it was on the consent agenda. I would anticipate (we’ll) just let it go,” says Houston. “There’s no sense in trying to prolong it.”

Houston likes the mural idea, as does the entire city council, but says there are better ways to use that money — as this disbursement “won’t produce any increment.”

The argument last week came over whether the project should be funded through TIF, the balance of the fund notwithstanding. Aldermen questioned whether the project was TIF eligible, but the ordinance went unchanged and the project’s been approved for TIF dollars.

Aldermen Make it Easier to Released Closed Door Meeting Information

A majority vote of the Springfield City Council is now all it will take to release minutes and recordings from closed door meetings.

Ward 7 Alderman Kris Theilen tried to amend the measure to require advice from the city attorney.

I do have some major concerns about, not necessarily this body, but just in general, any one alderman now or future, coming in and deciding they want to release something without at least giving corporation counsel the chance to weigh in on it,” said Theilen.

His amendment failed. The issue stems from a 2012 CWLP tree trimming incident where a witness claimed city officials lied about his testimony to an executive session.

The new city code is in line with state open meetings laws that says only the public body in question can decide whether to release the information.