Committee supports new public texting service

·4 min read

Apr. 27—DANVILLE — With the full Danville City Council's approval next week, Danville citizens will have a new text messaging service they can opt into to find out information on city events and services.

The city council's Public Services Committee Tuesday night recommended approving a subscription cost of $10,100 for the first year for TextMyGov which "offers a service that opens the lines of the communication, works 24 hours a day and easily connects with citizens through a texting service that is both inbound and outbound, using smart technology to communicate with citizens, answer their questions, connect citizens to information and provide details on services, payments, events and more," according to the city resolution. Funding comes from the city's general fund reserve.

In other business, the committee learned in the personnel report that Amanda Mank, assistant corporation counsel, has resigned for a job with the state's attorney's office; and deputy city clerk Megan Mudd transferred to the finance division's accounts payable administrator.

The committee also recommended approving new auditing service fees with CliftonLarsonAllen. Aldermen approved CliftonLarsonAllen LLP's five-year auditing services proposal in April 2019. Due to the recent absorption of utility billing functions being performed within the city finance department, the scope of the audit increased to account for the high volume of additional transactions being processed, according to the city resolution. The fee for auditing services for fiscal year 2021-2022 will be increased by $16,500 beyond the previously proposed $66,500.

CliftonLarsonAllen will provide auditing services to the city for $68,600 (which includes auditing the financial statements of the city, performing a single audit of the city, GATA CYEFR Audit and utility billing testing) for the audit of the city; $5,700 for the Danville Public Library and $8,700 for Danville Mass Transit for the period ending June 30, 2022.

The committee also recommended replacing three police vehicles in the police patrol division and adding one vehicle to the criminal investigations division for the Danville Police Department. The three vehicles will be traded in or sold to go toward the purchase of the new vehicles. The cost will not exceed $120,000, not to include special emergency equipment up-fitting. Three 2011 Chevrolet Impalas will be disposed of.

The committee also heard from Police Chief Chris Yates about crime reporting and Danville crime rates.

Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. talked about an online article claiming Danville is the sixth most dangerous place in the country, most dangerous metro area in Illinois and second most dangerous in the Midwest.

He said the article has false information, and he wanted to remind community members on what they share and to assess sources. He said people want to trash Danville, but the city isn't where officials want it to be either.

Some crime statistics look at the metropolitan area, being Vermilion County.

Williams said the city saw 388 violent crimes in 2020, not 785. The one-year change in violent crime did not go up 12.3 percent, but went down by 33 percent, he added.

He also said the city didn't have 13 homicides, but 8; and the homicide rate is not 17.4 per 100,000 people, but 11.7.

Yates talked about not seeing significant increases in crime statistics in the last couple years, with some seeing decreases, such as shots fired.

But he said one homicide, or one domestic battery is too many.

Williams said in the national crime statistic reporting system, Danville's high thefts, including retail thefts, increase the city's crime rate.

The police department started utilizing NIBRS (National Incident-Based Reporting System) in late 2020 to look at crime statistics, breaking away from the Uniform Crime Reporting program.

In other discussions, aldermen discussed moving American Rescue Plan Act funds proposed for projects to another fire truck, and possibly reimbursing the David S. Palmer Arena $200,000 in lost pandemic hotel/motel tax revenue, at the suggestion of Williams. Aldermen also talked about how the Danville Tennis Club is a private club with membership fees, but the city owns the building and property.

Some aldermen suggested moving funding away from the proposed $500,000 for the Southern Illinois Healthcare Foundation project.

The city council will act on the city's $24.7 million ARPA spending plan next month.