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Morris aldermen argue over city bill

MORRIS – Two of the city's aldermen got into a heated discussion Monday night regarding the payment of a bill.

Last month, Alderman Randy Larson voted against the payment of a bill of more than $5,000 to Black Box Network Services, the city's phone system. The payment is for a maintenance contract for the system.

Larson is the head of the Building and Grounds Committee, which is the oversight committee for the Morris Municipal Services Facility where the phone system is used. Because of this, Larson has to approve it.

Alderman Brian Feeney asked about where this situation stood just before the close of the Morris City Council meeting.

"I'm trying to work on a better contract," Larson said. "If you want to approve it Mr. Feeney, you can."

Feeney expressed concern that the city might be at risk right now if the system was to malfunction and the bill was not paid.

"I'm just saying we need some type of protection," Feeney said.

Larson replied that he was reassured the city's insurance would cover any costs if a major incident was to occur.

He said he has been working with the company for the last month to see if some adjustments can be made. Most recently, he was passed on to another employee he said and is waiting to hear back.

Larson's issue is that the bill is high compared to how much maintenance the city has actually required. Last year, he said the city used it about seven times, which does not equate to how much the city pays in for the maintenance contract.

"As the system gets older, the more likely there will be problems," said Alderman Bill Martin. "And I think it is imperative that the police department [always has phones]."

Larson agreed, but said he does not want the city paying anymore than it has to.

Feeney asked City Attorney Scott Belt if the council could approve the payment of the bill. Belt said if it is on the agenda in the future, the bill could be voted on, but it could not Monday because it was not an agenda item.

In other business, the council also officially approved City Clerk John Enger's resignation effective Feb. 3.

Enger announced earlier this month he is resigning because of health issues. In spring 2013, Enger was out of work for several months because of illness, but returned in the fall.

Enger first started with the city in 1977 as the city treasurer, which he held until spring 1981 when he was elected as Third Ward alderman. His first term as alderman ended in 1985 at which time he was re-elected. But after about two years, he resigned to become city clerk in 1987.

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