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Public Funds

Cheaper C-U bus pass helps low-income riders

CHAMPAIGN – A $60 bus pass gets Steve Burgess out of the house and into the world.

To be perfectly honest, “house” isn’t entirely accurate: The unemployed restaurant manager lives in a men’s shelter. His newfound access to public transportation is meant to change that.

CU CItizen Access

broadband update

URBANA -- Local officials are waiting for word on a federal grant application to help build a high-speed fiber-optic Internet network, but a consultant hired to advise Champaign and Urbana councils thinks the proposed project here is designed too large and will have big problems with capital replacement in 10 years.

At a meeting of the Champaign-Urbana Cable Commission Wednesday, project organizers said there has been extensive questioning by federal officials about a local $28 million big broadband project.

Mike Smeltzer, director of networking for the University of Illinois Campus Information Technologies and Educational Services, told commission members, “We’ve been getting a going-over ... and we see this as hopeful.”

The News-Gazette/Peter Resnick, right, gives an update about the broadband grant application to Giraldo Rosales, left, and others on the Champaign-Urbana Cable Commission at Champaign City Council chambers in Champaign, Ill on Jan. 13, 2010

Champaign officials exploring options to help area homeless

CHAMPAIGN – Officials will be looking for ways to solidify support for the homeless in Champaign County.

"We are suggesting a tiny amount of caulk to fill the cracks in the planks through which people are falling every day," Champaign City Council member Michael La Due said Tuesday night at a council study session on housing issues.

The council unanimously voted to direct the city staff to pursue three options: developing an emergency tenant relocation plan; a housing needs study; and exploring a safety net fund to expand emergency shelter service during the recession.

Kevin Jackson, director of the Champaign neighborhood services department, said all three will be done in partnership with other cities and service providers.

The News-Gazette/ A number of code violations were found by city of Champaign inspectors at the Catholic Worker House annex, seen in this July photo, at 314 Cottage Court in Champaign. A “tent community” for the homeless was set up this summer in the backyard.

Citizens to feel impact of cuts in Champaign city budget

CHAMPAIGN — The proposed city budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 has a line item that is easy to overlook but is worthy of attention.

The fiscal year 2010 budget, released Tuesday, projects spending in the general operating fund, the city´s main account, of $67.5 million.

That´s $2.3 million less in spending than was budgeted for the current fiscal year, and $900,000 less than the city actual expects to spend this year — after the city implemented a hiring freeze and other cost-saving measures last fall.

Reductions in city spending don´t come easily, according to city Finance Director Richard Schnuer. He said the city needs revenue growth of 5 percent annually just to stay even in terms of numbers of employees.

The City of Champaign/ City officials anticipate a decline in revenues next year due to the economy.

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