Request to ride lawn mowers around the town on May 15
Vienna Perdue and Sheena Bohen were in the council chambers representing a
private group that wants to hold a "lawn mower run" in the city of
Perdue spoke to the council about what they would like to do on
She said that a group of people wanted to get together and do a
lawn mower run around the town, collecting food for the food pantry.
Perdue said that the food pantry had offered permission for
participants to park in their lot. The group of lawn mower riders
would then proceed to several locations, collecting food for the
She said that the group would stay off the heavier traffic
thoroughfares in town, but that they did want to traverse Pulaski
Street, Oklahoma, McLean, Peoria, Chicago, and they would need to
cross Fifth Street to get to Chad's Blind.
The group intends to traverse these streets from Rumors to the
Glass House, the OK Tavern, Mr. Lucky'ss, the Alley-Bi and finally
Alderwoman Marty Neitzel likened the event to a poker run and
Perdue said yes, but without the drinking that is normally
associated with those events. Neitzel also asked why all the stops
were to be at taverns if there was no drinking involved.
Perdue said that the taverns came up with the idea of doing the
run and were willing to put up money for it.
Perdue said that lawn mower runs have taken place in other towns
and drinking was involved. She also said that the group couldn't
prevent folks from drinking, but it was not part of the event.
Mayor Keith Snyder said that if this event were to happen, all
the lawn mower operators would have to be licensed drivers. He said
that the police department would also have the right to enforce DUI
laws as needed.
Perdue said that was all understood, and that they could require
a driver's license at registration.
City attorney Bill Bates expressed some very serious concerns
about the entire proposal. He said that the city had no authority to
tell unlicensed vehicles it was all right to operate on public
Perdue said that the group would purchase insurance, and Bates
said that really didn't matter. He assured the council that if
someone gets hurt, the city will be left wide open for lawsuits.
Perdue then asked if it would help if the group had an escort.
Bates said he was just really concerned about allowing the mowers
on city streets. He said legally the city could not authorize it,
and he wondered how other towns had gotten around that.
He added that he'd certainly be willing to talk to the other
towns where this has taken place and see how they determined that it
was legal to do.
Perdue said that the lawn mower runs have taken place in New
Holland, Mason City and Tallula. She offered to get in touch
with someone in Mason City and ask them to talk to Bates.
Bates asked if the city council had approved it in Mason City,
and she said she thought the group had just gone to the police
department, but not to city officials.
Snyder also suggested that because there were voting sessions
between now and May 15, perhaps the city should investigate this a
bit further. He asked Alderman Jeff Hoinacki to work with the police
committee to see what they could come up with on this issue.
Audit firms wants to research cable franchise fees for the city
Kevin Lerash of Azavar Audit Solutions Inc. addressed the council
regarding services his firm offers to municipalities.
Lerash said his firm specializes in reviewing utility taxes,
telecommunication taxes, cable franchise fees, sales tax,
hotel-motel taxes, and local use tax and fees.
Their goal is to research and discover whether or not the city is
collecting all the money they are entitled to.
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For the city of Lincoln, he said that he particularly wanted to
zero in on the cable franchise fees. He noted that the city's cable
contract has changed hands on a few occasions in the past few years,
and that this could equate to errors in listing the homes in the
area, which might have resulted in the city not getting the full
benefit of the franchise fee.
Lerash said that a part of this effort would include reviewing
Comcast records and assuring there were no underpayments in the
He said that another part of the audit includes looking at every
address in the city and determining where the fee from that
particular address is going. He cited that there have been cases
where fees that belonged to a city were actually being paid to the
For the services he is offering, Lerash said there would be no
cost involved if they didn't find any problems. On the other hand,
if the firm does find revenues for the city, they will charge a fee
of 50 percent of that revenue.
Additionally, the firm will continue to collect that on a monthly
basis for a total of 60 months.
Alderman David Armbrust said he thought the 50 percent was a
pretty steep fee for the service. On the other hand, Alderwoman
Melody Anderson said the city would pay nothing upfront, and Lerash
reiterated that if the firm finds no errors, the city will not pay
for any of the firm's research.
Bates asked if Lerash had seen the city's franchise agreement. He
expressed that certain agreements today say they do not have to
provide the information that Lerash would have to get from them.
Lerash said he thought that the current agreement would permit
Azavar to investigate Comcast's records. He added that when the time
comes for the city to sign a new agreement with Comcast or any other
cable provider, it would be wise to have his firm look at the
contract before the council approves it.
Snyder asked if there was currently some state legislation being
presented that would affect this type of audit, and Lerash said that
indeed there was.
Senate Bill 2612, if voted in, will relieve cable companies from
having to pay for past errors, unless a municipality can prove
negligence on the part of that company.
Azavar is a firm operating out of Chicago and has worked recently
with other Illinois cities such as Des Plaines, Evanston, Hanover
Park, Plainfield, Rockford, Roselle and Westmont.
Anderson asked that it be added to the agenda for Monday night to
vote on whether or not to ask the firm to audit the city's cable
[By NILA SMITH]