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Purcell begins term as Yorkville mayor

Urges city staff to be more responsive to local residents

“Look, I already have business cards,” John Purcell said, joking, shortly after being sworn in as Yorkville mayor at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Also sworn in were Ward 1 Alderman Daniel Transier, Ward 2 Alderman Jacquelyn Milschewski, Ward 3 Alderman Chris Funkhouser, Ward 4 Alderman Seaver Tarulis and Ward 5 Alderman Jason Peterson.

Milschewski was also unanimously appointed to serve as mayor pro tempore for the 2020 fiscal year.

Later, Purcell presented some expectations for the council and city staff during the mayor’s report.

During his campaign one of the “biggest concerns” Purcell said he heard from residents involved the level of city staff responsiveness to residents’ concerns.

“The city, aside from the township is the ultimate form of local government. One of the concerns we heard was sometimes there’s just not a response from the city,” Purcell said. “I communicated that to staff; even if we disagree with people...we’re going to communicate with them. Sometimes, quite frankly, they’re not going to like the answer they hear, but at least we’re going to communicate with them.”

Changes to the method in which big-ticket budget items are approved is also on the list of changes Purcell is looking to make while mayor. Currently, he said, budgetary expenses up to $25,000 can be approved by city staff without input from the mayor or city council.

“I’ve told the police chief and I told the administrator that’s stopping immediately,” Purcell said. “We’re not going to allow that...I think that taxpayers expect that that there’s going to be some input.”

Purcell also floated the possibility of eliminating the consent agenda from the city council’s meeting agendas. Consent agendas are a common meeting practice that group several agenda items together as one item for a single vote.

“I’m not a big fan of those,” he said. “We’ll have some voice votes, some of the minutes or some of the reports we may go into voice votes if the attorney thinks it’s appropriate, but I’m not a fan of consent agendas.

“I believe that if there’s something the council needs to vote on, it takes another minute to vote on it. People should know what’s on the agenda.”

The newly-official mayor also promised residents that there would be no forced annexations during his term, calling the matter, “very near and dear” to him.

Several city staffers also took the oath of office on Tuesday. City Attorney Kathleen Orr, Building Inspector/Zoning Officer Pete Ratos, Director of Parks and Recreation Tim Evans, Director of Public Works Eric Dhuse, City Treasurer and Director of Finance Rob Fredrickson, and City Engineer Engineering Enterprises, Inc., were each sworn in to a term of one year, ending May 15, 2020.

Deputy Clerk Lisa Pickering was appointed to the position of City Clerk, for a position of one year ending May 15, 2020.

City Administrator and Budget Officer Bart Olson sworn into office Tuesday to a term of six months, ending on Nov. 29.

“It’s not a secret that the administrator (Olson) and myself have had some differences of opinion in the past, but I think he’s been very professional, he’s done a great job, he’s got a lot of knowledge, and we both thought six months was appropriate to make sure it’s a working relationship that works both ways,” Purcell said. “It’s not just a one-way street, he’s got to be comfortable working with me as well.”

Each appointment was unanimously approved by the council.

As the details of his contract are still being worked out, Yorkville Chief of Police Rich Hart was not sworn into office at Tuesday’s meeting.

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