This has been a goal of the city council for quite some time. The
postcards have proven to be problematic for sewer customers over the
years. Because they are a lighter weight paper and postcard format,
they often get stuffed into the bottom of a recipient's mailbox and
not retrieved in a timely fashion. They arrive in a tattered
condition, or they don't arrive at all.
In addition, there has
been some speculation that the cards have sometimes offered an
inarguable excuse for customers failing to pay their bills in a
timely manner because they are so often misplaced or mishandled.
The city had been of the understanding that the current sewer
billing software was not capable of producing a paper statement.
However, Gehlbach said that after doing some research, they found
that to be an inaccurate assumption.
The software has been reconfigured to print the monthly bills on
paper, and they will be mailed out in an envelope, beginning first
with the commercial billing for April. The residential billing will
switch to paper in May.
Gehlbach said the switch to paper would involve a higher cost for
postage, but that had been anticipated by the city.
During discussion Marty Neitzel said she was happy to see this
come about, and she knew that there had been some hard work involved
in the clerk's office to get this accomplished. Gehlbach gave much
of the credit for this to Dawn Crowell, who is the sewer billing
clerk, saying she had spent a lot of time figuring all this out and
getting everything to work properly.
Melody Anderson also commented that this was long overdue, and to
now have the ability to print paper statements was certainly a step
in the right direction for the sewer department.
In their voting session, the council approved via their consent
agenda the 2014 racing schedule for the Lincoln Speedway and once
again this year granted a total of 90 minutes' worth of curfew
extensions to be used in no more than 30-minute increments, but as
needed by the track in order to complete racing events.
By roll call vote, the council approved sending out "Request for
Proposal" letters in search of a city code hearing officer. This
position is being created to fulfill requirements that came with the
passing of an impound ordinance two weeks ago.
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The city now has the authority to impose an impound fee on
vehicles that have to be towed and stored as a result of a
criminal arrest. Because of this, defendants have to have an
opportunity to dispute the impound fee. It had been explained
earlier that the code hearing officer will be an attorney on
call who can act as a judge in hearings. This is not a full-time
position, but rather as needed and generally at a cost of
between $75 and $100 per hour.
City administrator Sue McLaughlin and police Chief Ken Greenslate
told the council the hearings would be infrequent, possibly no more
than one or two per year.
However, if the city pursues creating other traffic ordinances as
a means of securing a greater percentage of violation fees, the role
of the code hearing officer could expand.
Currently, when city police officers issue tickets for traffic
violations, the violation is processed through the state of
Illinois. The state then keeps a percentage of the fees or fines
collected. If the city adopts ordinances for traffic violations, the
state would be eliminated from the process and the city would
receive all the proceeds of the fines.
Next week's meeting
The next session of the Lincoln City Council will be on Tuesday.
The night will begin with a special adjourned voting session. On
the agenda there is one action item: to approve or deny a request
from a city employee for extended family medical leave.
Following the voting session, the council will adjourn and go
immediately into the Tuesday night workshop session.
[By NILA SMITH]