Future of city digital sign still up in air

City Council
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

The future of the Monticello digital sign on Highway 151 was the topic of some lengthy discussion at the Jan. 6 city council meeting. 

There are several options for the council to consider. Removing the digital board could cost around $4,000. It would be an additional $2,000 to repaint the poles, and up to $2,000 to repair the lights to the top portion of the sign to illuminate “Monticello.” 

To just tear down the entire sign, digital portion and all, is could cost $6,800. This does not include the cost to remove all of the electrical units. 

If the “Monticello” portion of the sign remained, it could cost the city a total of $2,250 for electricity, land rent and insurance. 

City Administrator Doug Herman said some of the work, depending on what the council decides, could be cheaper locally. 

Resident Steve Hanken suggested the city look at getting as much of the work done locally as they could to save the taxpayers some money. 

“You could do better if you put it out to bid,” said Hanken. 

Hanken also questioned why the city only sought estimates from one sign company. Police Chief Britt Smith said they sent out bid specs to five companies and only received feedback from three. What was presented to the council was the lowest bid prices. 

“We have reached out to other contractors to repair the Monticello sign,” said Herman. “There was not a lot of interest.” 

Council member Dave Goedken felt the city should not be “throwing good money” at a bad situation. He suggested not even fixing the sign and to look at other options for welcome signs at various entrances to the community using the city’s new clock tower logo. 

“This has not been a good investment for the taxpayers,” Goedken commented. “It was not a productive investment.” 

Whether the city fixes the sign or tears it down, Goedken felt both options were expensive. However, he said tearing it down would be better than maintaining it every year. 

Council member Tom Yeoman disagreed. “A lot of my customers drive by (the sign) and I receive positive feedback,” Yeoman said. “I’d hate to eliminate it altogether. I think it needs to stay there and stay lit.” 

No matter what the city decides, Council member Chris Lux said it would cost money just to tear out the sign. Herman said there might be a local contractor willing to demolish the structure at a cheaper rate. 

In the end, the council directed Herman to look into the land lease to see if they could terminate the contract. The council also decided to leave the sign as is without spending money until more options are researched. 

In other city business: 

• The council approved several board appointments: Andrea Janssen to Parks & Rec; Harry Haumann to Cemetery Board; Gaylen Kray to Tree Board; and Ellen Strittmatter, Don Tapken and Lisa Stevens all to Library Board. 

• The council held a public hearing and approved a number of Fiscal Year 2020 budget amendments. After the amendments, the revenues increase by $275,560, and the expenses increase by $2,309,947. 

• The council designated The Monticello Express as the city’s official newspaper for publication purposes. 

• The council approved two change orders associated with the N. Sycamore Street Reconstruction Project. The change orders total $76,735.67. 

The council also approved the ninth and final pay request to Horsfield Construction on the project, in the amount of $149,699.39. This essentially completes the project. Final property assessments will come some time in February. 

• The council tabled the purchase of a skid loader for the Public Works Department. Public Works Director sought two bids from local businesses Scherrman’s Implement and Kromminga Motors for a variety of models, ranging from $4,500 to $7,700. 

However, the council did approve the purchase of a 2015 Vermeer Brush Chipper for Public Works and Parks & Rec at a not-to-exceed cost of $16,000. 

• During his report, Herman suggested city and township officials work to form an ambulance department review committee, noting the resignation of Ambulance Director Dawn Brus some time in February. 


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