Wednesday, the village board emerged from brief closed session and voted 5-0 to approve her appointment of John Schweickert to take her old seat on the village board.
Alvarado was appointed last month to replace the late Fred Esmond, leaving a vacancy in the six-member board. Soon after taking office, Alvarado said she wouldn’t seek a full term as mayor or return as village trustee but would seek “new blood” to fill her seat.
“I feel we need to get a younger person as mayor and younger people on the village board,” Alvarado, 77, said last month after her elevation to mayor. “After all, Utica needs to continue to grow and we need people with newer ideas and with young families who want their families to have a beautiful community.”
Schweickert, 41, fits the bill. A six-year resident of Utica and father of small daughters, he has not held public office before.
Though Alvarado was reelected trustee in April and leaves a nearly full term, Schweickert will complete about half Alvarado’s unfinished term, expiring in April 2015.
Separately, the village tax rate might go down next year.
Village trustee Matt Jereb announced that the village’s tax base climbed by nearly half to about $30.3 million thanks to an expansion at Unimin. Come December, Jereb said he “probably will” seek an increase in Utica’s levy but it won’t exceed 5 percent, which means Utica’s municipal tax rate will fall.
Utica residents still could pay higher taxes in 2014, however, depending on whether home values rise. Also, the municipal tax rate is one of about 10 line items on a typical Utica tax bill and the schools, townships, fire district and/or county could cause the bottom line to rise.
Finally, Utica police are upgrading the obsolete cameras on village squad cars. Trustee Jim Schrader said police chief Mark Wren is taking bids and soon will have information to present to the village, likely by next month.
Utica police use second-hand VHS cameras to record traffic stops and the cameras do not always work. An alleged drug trafficker recently asked a judge to throw out his 2012 search-and-seizure in Utica because the recording was flawed. The judge upheld the bust; but Utica police don’t want the next one tossed over a bad camera.
In other matters, the village board:
-Approved the purchase of 100 new water meters at a cost not to exceed $20,500.
-Learned the streetscape program on Route 178 soon will be halted for winter.
-Approved tags days for IVCC baseball on Nov. 16 and La Salle-Peru Township High School on April 5.
-Named the cone flower as Utica’s official flower. A batch will be planted near the gazebo in spring.
-Renewed its contract with Code RED (the reverse 911 provider) for $500
Tom Collins can be reached at (815) 220-6930 or email@example.com .