According to Susan Gehlbach, city clerk, who spoke about this after
the meeting, her office had received a request for reimbursement for
a sidewalk repair.
The name on the request struck a chord, and
when she checked it out, she found the person owed the city money.
Gehlbach said her thought was, "Why should we be paying them when
they owe us money?"
The matter was taken to the full council, and on Monday night
they all agreed that unnecessary repairs and services for those
owing the city money should not be reimbursed.
During the discussion the council was very careful to make it
clear this did not include vital services.
City attorney Bill Bates spelled it out, saying: "This does not
mean these people won't get police protection or fire services,
because they will."
After the meeting, Tracy Jackson, street and alley
superintendent, shed a little more light on what would or could be
denied for reimbursement or repair. He noted one good example: If a
resident wants a sidewalk repaired with brick, the city has adopted
a policy of reimbursing a portion of the resident's expenses, but
Jackson said if the same person is found to owe the city money
for delinquent sewer bills or parking tickets, the request for
reimbursement will be denied.
In talking about the sidewalk repair requests, Jackson said the
city would still inspect the sidewalks as the requests come in, and
if the area is determined to be unsafe, the repairs would still be
made even if the resident owes the city money.
He summed it up by saying all the decisions where his department
was concerned would have to be made on a case-by-case basis.
Gehlbach said they are also going to look at this for businesses
that are up to renew their liquor licenses. She explained that the
annual licenses renew at the end of April, first of May.
[to top of second column]
If a business applies for liquor license renewal and is found to
be in debt to the city, the license will not be renewed until the
debt is cleared up.
This had also come up during the council meeting, and the
question was posed: If the business owner has a personal debt not
related to the business or the license, will the license still be
The answer was no, if the business is not in debt to the city,
then the business will not be affected, regardless of what its owner
may owe the city on a personal level.
Gehlbach said that adding this kind of checklist to the duties of
the clerk's office would make a little more work for her and her
staff, but it is well worth it.
To date the city has been making some really good progress on
cleaning up the delinquent sewer accounts.
Gehlbach told the council last week in her monthly report that in
March the city collected $22,178 in past-due sewer bills. This
brings the total to date to $73,000 collected from the water
She said Illinois American Water has disconnected water to 14
properties thus far. There have been two re-connects after the sewer
bills were paid in full.
Gehlbach also told the council that as of the end of March, the
total delinquent sewage accounts come to just over $135,000, down
considerably from the all-time high that exceeded $250,000.
[By NILA SMITH]