During their regular meeting Tuesday night, members of the Lewistown City Council voted to reverse Mayor Elmer Littlefield’s veto to forgive the sewer portion of a water bill.

LEWISTOWN — During their regular meeting Tuesday night, members of the Lewistown City Council voted to reverse Mayor Elmer Littlefield’s veto to forgive the sewer portion of a water bill.

During the Council’s Sept. 24 meeting, Jayson Herrick approached city officials about a $1,027 water bill he received following a water break in the basement of an apartment building he owns. Aldermen voted to waive the sewer portion of the bill, $358.13.

However, Littlefield announced in a letter published in the Oct. 2 issue of the Fulton Democrat that he would be vetoing the Council’s decision.

“The cancellation of a City financial billing is the wrongful taking of a public asset for private benefit. This is an unauthorized financial burden on Lewistown tax payers as well as a burden on those who pay their water and sewer bills in full,” Littlefield said in the letter.

Monday night Aldermen voted unanimously to reverse the veto with Alderman Kim Pascal abstaining from voting as Herrick is her son. Pascal also abstained from voting at the Sept. 24 meeting.

“I did what I thought was needed to be done for taxpayers,” Littlefield commented.

Herrick and Littlefield have disagreed on whether water had gone through the sewer drain; Herrick said there is a hole in the basement that Littlefield believes to be a sewer drain.

Littlefield said while visiting the basement, the exposed floor was substantially dry meaning the water had been drained.

“If you had 130,000 gallons going out, it’d be like quicksand,” Littlefield said.

During the Council’s Aug. 13 meeting, Littlefield had suggested deducting the sewer charges from Kathy Grzanich’s water bill. Littlefield further explained this decision Monday night.

According to Littlefield, the water break had occurred on a Sunday and Public Works employees went to the property to shut off the water but could not find the shut off valve.

“I felt a little more obligated because our guys shouldn’t have left it running,” said Littlefield, adding that he means no offense to the employees.

Additionally, Herrick was listed on the agenda and spoke about his belief that Littlefield should resign.

Littlefield said that he has no plans to resign as mayor.

Herrick said that Littlefield could be removed from his position if Lewistown residents passed a local referendum to become home rule.

According to the Illinois Municipal League, www.iml.org/homerule, the purple of home rule is to “allow for local solutions to local issues and problems. A municipality with home rule status can exercise any power and perform any function unless it is specifically prohibited from doing so by state law.”

Herrick further explained that under home rule, at least 10 percent of registered voters could remove an individual from office. Other communities have suggested 25 percent, he said.

Twenty-five percent of registered voters in Lewistown is 325.

“You did not win the last election,” Herrick said. “John King lost it. People wanted a change.”

Alderman Kendall Miller noted that he was formerly Mayor of Lewistown and had once been reprimanded by the Council.

“If I would have been reprimanded by the community, it would have affected me more than if the Council did it,” Miller said.

“It’s ridiculous that we sit up here and argue with each other,” Alderman Sally Clark commented.

“You think you’ve done nothing wrong,” she said to Littlfield.

“I haven’t done anything wrong,” Littlefield responded.

Also during the Sept. 24 Council meeting, residents Jerry Ford and Connie Lannery had requested and were approved to be put on payment plans for their water bills.

Littlefield has been accused of belittling Ford and Lannery; this was expressed at the Oct. 8 meeting and again Monday night.

“You claimed you didn’t belittle anybody at that meeting,” Ford said. “You made it clear that I wasn’t working. Do you know why I wasn’t working? I had a stroke.”

Ford added that Littlefield’s comments had made him feel bad, “It hurt me when I walked out.”

“If I offended you I apologize,” Littlefield said to Ford.

The grandson of Lannery was also present Monday and expressed that she was crying after the Sept. 24 meeting because of comments made toward her.

At the beginning of the meeting, City Attorney Nathan Collins provided a draft of an ordinance that would allow the Water Clerk to set up payment plans for residents, bypassing the need for residents to address the Council on this matter.

Residents still had much to say about Littlefield’s alleged behavior as John Ball addressed the Council during public comments.

Ball, a life-long resident of Lewistown and member of the VFW and American Legion, said that Littlefield had called Herrick, a former Marine and decorated veteran, a coward.

“Only two people heard that conversation,” Littlefield said. “It was a set up. I didn’t say it.”

Following Herrick’s remarks about home rule, Littlefield had asked for a motion to adjourn but Aldermen did not make a motion.

Other complaints were expressed, such as Littlefield allegedly not wanting to assist the VFW with water issues and not allowing another resident to speak to the Council about a sewage break.

Littlefield said he told that resident that the issue would be addressed at a committee meeting and never said he couldn’t speak.

After about 15 to 20 minutes, Alderman John Spotloe made a motion to adjourn with Littlefield seconding the motion, and the meeting concluded.