Bank purchase will be decided by city's voters Election set for Nov. 18 by David Lias The Vermillion City Council has set Nov. 18 as the date of a special election that will allow citizens to decide whether Vermillion should purchase the Community First National Bank building and transform it from a financial institution to the municipality's city hall.
The Vermillion City Council passed a resolution Sept. 2 to buy the building, located at the corner of Main and Church streets, for $1.1 million.
In the resolution, the council also agreed to set aside up to an additional $1.1 million to use to pay for remodeling the bank building.
Petitions calling for a referendum on the city council's Sept. 2 action, which was a legislative decision, were filed at city hall Sept. 25.
Finance Officer Mike Carlson has reviewed the petitions, and concluded they contain a sufficient number of signatures from registered voters in the city to put the purchase and remodeling of the bank building up to a public vote.
Local ordinances allow the bank purchase vote to be scheduled on the date of next regular municipal election in June. The city also has the ability to set a special election. The latter option allows the city to schedule a special vote on a Tuesday not less than 30 days from the date of the order of the governing body.
Thirty days from Monday's council meeting would be Thursday, Nov. 6. The next Tuesday would be Nov. 11, which is Veterans Day.
"Probably the earliest you could have an election on this would be Nov. 18, or any day thereafter," Carlson said.
"If we would set as early as Nov. 18, would that give the staff enough time so that we could do a good job of presenting to the public the reasoning and the background of where we were and how we got to where we are?" asked Alderman Jack Powell. "I would hate to see us rush something just to get to an early deadline."
Carlson estimated that he could have ballots ready by the end of this month, which would give voters adequate time to cast absentee ballots.
"We've already started the information collection anticipating questions on city hall and the need to move from here," City Manager Jim Patrick said. "We are in the process of making our presentation and producing materials. We would be in a position to have a couple of public forums where we could present information, and talk to some of the service organizations."
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Community First National Bank officials communicated their interest in selling its building to the city last May.
Bank officials also noted at that time that Community First has no intention of leaving the Vermillion community, whether or not the city purchased its building.
Ironically, the $1.1 million set aside for remodeling, not the $1.1 million purchase price, may be the main driving force behind the referendum.
Patrick noted at the Sept. 2 city council meeting that it was important to include that language in the resolution.
"If you're looking at a legislative action, you need to have a 'not to exceed' number that the population of the city can look at and get an idea of where we are going and what it is going to cost," he said at that meeting.