Newton City Council has agreed to join in negotiations on the new wholesale distribution service rate for utility service with Ameren.

This agreement will have Newton and other communities represented by the firm Duncan, Weinberg, Genzer and Pembroke to ensure a fair deal for the city and other communities involved in the Joint Defense and Common Interest Agreement. These negotiations could produce energy savings for Newton residents in the long run. The vote on the agreement was unanimous with Mayor Mark Brooks and council members Rob Reisner, Marlene Harris, Gayle Glumac and Larry Brooks answering roll call during the June 16 meeting in Newton City Hall. Aldermen Dave Brown and Eric Blake were absent that night.

A $40,000 Tax Increment Financing agreement was approved for use by GSI for drainage and parking improvements plus assistance for a possible expansion, which was covered during a recent Finance Committee meeting. The vote was unanimous for assisting GSI with TIF funds.

The council also approved city annexation agreement with Michael and Sandy Birch on their property. The general rule is properties are annexed when using or requesting city utilities and adjacent to city limits.

Reisner said the annual street tarring and chipping work will start on July 28, weather permitting. The rain date is July 29. He also reminded board members that the railroad crossing improvement work on South Van Buren starts on July 20. There will be traffic detours during that project.

The council meeting also reviewed some a variety of subjects affecting different departments, some covered in committee reports. Those included:

@ Concerns on the Old Mill Bridge signage and trail usage as well as a lack of mowing in ditches within the city.

@ A candidate being interviewed for an opening on the Newton Police Department.

@ Finding money for the resurfacing the city streets around much of the Courthouse Square.

@ Learning the Black Lives Matter Rally on Saturday, June 13, on the Square was peaceful, respectful and drew about 130 people, most coming from Jasper or surrounding counties. Many joined the march west on Washington Street and then east along Jourdan back to the Square. The city along with the county provided a small group of officers to ensure the rally remained peaceful and those officers received an ovation from the rally attendees that afternoon.

The council members voted to go into closed session for discussion of litigation and sale or purchase of real estate. No action was taken after the members voted to return to open session.

The next Newton City Council regular meeting starts at 6 p.m. on July 7 in City Hall.

Council members also unanimously approved the city bills and accounts payable totaling $137,117 and $142,643 respectively, as presented by Harris.