SYCAMORE – The Sycamore City Council sweetened the deal in a sidewalk replacement program Monday to entice more residents to address cracked and hazardous sidewalks.
Council members unanimously supported increasing the city’s contribution to the program from $3 per square foot to $4 per square foot to replace sidewalks, leaving residents responsible for less than half of the total cost. It costs $7 to remove and replace one square foot of sidewalk.
City Manager Brian Gregory proposed raising the contribution from $3 to $3.50 to meet the 50-50 standard the city wanted to reach when it first started the program in 2005. First Ward Alderman Alan Bauer said the city should increase the contribution to $4 if it wants to attract more participation.
“It won’t affect the budget,” Bauer said. “And it might increase the total amount of takers.”
The program provides $25,000 annually, and that would not change with the increased city contribution. The program would end when the fund is depleted.
Demand for the program has varied over the years. In fiscal 2010, the city spent $17,854, and in fiscal 2011 it spent $20,458. The city spent only $7,606 last year.
Gregory said some residents would receive fliers on their doors about the program if city officials believe they would be good candidates for the subsidy.
The Council’s other official action did not please Bauer as much. He was the only one to vote against an eight-year extension with Comcast.
The cable television franchise agreement would be similar to the existing contract, but there is a bolstered customer service section courtesy of updates to state law and more insurance coverage for the city.
Sycamore will continue to receive roughly $250,000 per year in franchise fees from Comcast and because it is a nonexclusive agreement, the city would be free to negotiate with other cable providers should there be any interest.
Bauer said while he did not have a problem with Comcast, he was concerned it is the only cable option in the city, which allows it to maintain high rates. Rejecting the extension, he said, may have led the company to reconsider its rates.
“Their fees are really high,” he said. “I’m kind of troubled by the fact that the luxury Comcast has here is they are a monopoly in town.”
Mayor Ken Mundy said the city does not have a large enough population to attract other cable providers, but satellite companies provide an alternative. By the time the extension expires, Mundy said there may be more players.
“I expect that some day that will occur,” Mundy said of other cable providers coming to town. “Just not today.”