SYCAMORE – The Sycamore City Council meeting was a positive one as some of the civil servants who have reached five-year milestones with between five to 35 years of working for the city were recognized.

Three of the men who were recognized were Fred Busse, Sycamore’s Public Works director for 35 years; Sycamore fire Lt. Tal Hickey – has served more than 30 years; and 3rd Ward Alderman Steve Braser, who has spent 10 years on the council.

“I can tell you I’m very proud,” Sycamore City Manager Brian Gregory said of Busse, Hickey, Braser and the others who were recognized for their years of service. “I know the council’s very proud of all of our departments and all of our employees.”

Gregory said that hopefully in another five years – when they hit their next five-year milestones – they’ll be getting their next award.

Sycamore Mayor Curt Lang said Busse has served in many capacities.

“He knows public works backwards and forwards,” Lang said. “And he’s kind OF our go-to guy when we need repairs and he directs all of the staff to keep the city running.”

Lang said he’s thrilled that Busse is on the staff and he hopes Busse has many more years left in him until he retires.

Fourth Ward Alderman Rick “Spider” Kramer talked a little about Hickey and his accomplishment in serving a little more than 30 years with the fire department.

“It’s a big commitment to your community to be some place for that long,” Kramer said. “He’s a pretty good professional, too. I’ve known him for about 18 years.”

Kramer said Hickey is the prototypical firefighter who knows a lot about a lot.

“He’s there for his crew,” he said. “He’s the first guy to jump in.”

Kramer said Hickey doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty and is one of many lieutenants for the department who are willing to get involved on a scene.

“That’s a great thing,” Kramer said. “It’s a great department.”

Lang said Braser’s 10 years as a senior alderman have been good ones.

“He’s always willing to speak to the citizens to help with questions and participate on committees,” Lang said. “We’re real lucky to have him on the council.”

Gregory also talked about some of the happenings around town, such as the update about ComEd and how it is refitting the street lights to LEDs and that the project will be finished in the next few months.

The council provided time for a public hearing about the 2019 corporate tax levy, but no one from the public showed up to comment.

The current proposal, which council members appeared to favor at their Nov. 18 meeting, would increase the city levy by about $50,000 – a 1.65% increase according to city documents – but because of new construction inside the city limits, the owner of a $200,000 home would see the city portion of their property tax bill increase by one cent.

The total citywide equalized assessed value increased by about $27 million. The other tax that makes up the corporate levy is for the Sycamore Public Library.

The proposed tax levy, voted on and approved by the Library Board, is for about $1.1 million. It will be an increase of about $19,000 over last year’s levy, but homeowners shouldn’t see a change on the library portion of their property tax bill, according to city documents.

Lang said he wasn’t surprised no one came to speak at the public hearing.

“We’ve discussed it for three meetings,” Lang said. “I think all the questions people may or may not have had have been addressed. The council has studied their background information for those other meetings, so I think everybody’s pretty comfortable with where we are, particularly so we don’t have to raise any taxes.”

Fourth Ward Alderwoman Virginia Sherrod said she was sort of surprised.

“I was thinking there would be a few people here with questions,” Sherrod said. “But I think that goes to show that they have confidence in the council and how well they’ve handled things so far in keeping taxes to a minimum, hopefully.”

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