City of Lincoln discusses Coronavirus
- Sewer bills, restaurant parking, tax revenues, use of toilet
paper, and next meeting
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[March 19, 2020]
the Monday night meeting of the Lincoln City Council, there were
items discussed not on the agenda, regarding the city’s official
response to the Corona Virus.
At the end of the night, aldermen discussed a few
issues including what to do about late payment fees on the sewer
In the city of Lincoln, the first day after the sewer bill is due
for payment a $5 late payment fee is assessed on each account. If an
account remains unpaid, then a $25 late fee is assessed each month
until the bill is paid.
Aldermen discussed the fairness of the $5 late payment fee in light
of the fact that City Hall is closed to the public, coupled with the
Illinois Governor and CDC suggestions that the elderly especially
avoid public contact during this time.
It was mentioned that because of this, making a timely payment may
be difficult for certain members of the local population.
By nod of the head, aldermen agreed that the $5 fee should be waived
for the time being but NOT the $25 fee.
City Clerk Peggy Bateman noted that there are some customers who pay
cash for their bills. She said on Monday, with Lincoln City Hall
closed, there had been some who had come to the door and then called
the clerk’s office to say they were there with a payment. Clerk
staff had gone to the door and accepted the payment. She said this
was working out alright.
She also noted that for those who are paying with check or money
order, they can use the drop box that is located right in front of
city hall on the corner facing McLean Street.
No special parking spaces for restaurants
Tracy Welch said he had been contacted by a restaurant owner
downtown who wondered if the city could help designate some of the
downtown parking areas for food pick-up only.
The Governor has ordered that all dine-in areas of restaurants be
closed. However, restaurants may offer carry out options for their
patrons. To accomplish this in the downtown area, eateries are to
meet patrons at their door or at the patron vehicle. Welch said that
with a curb-side service downtown, there were safety issues that
concerned some of the restaurant owners.
However, the city authorities thought that setting up designated
parking areas would be difficult and not all that helpful. Steve
Parrot said that customers can walk up to the front door of an
establishment from wherever they park and receive their food order.
He didn’t see that designated parking was needed.
Mayor Seth Goodman said he didn’t know how the city would accomplish
or enforce designated parking. Signage would be needed on the
parking spots and then someone would have to make sure that the
spaces were only being used by restaurant patrons picking up orders.
The topic was not part of the regular agenda Monday night so there
was no vote taken. By nod of the head, aldermen agreed that the city
would not designate parking at this time.
Only flush toilet paper
City Sewerage Treatment manager Andrew Bowns said that it was
important that people understand that the city sewer system and the
waste treatment facility is not equipped to handle materials other
than toilet paper and waste.
There have been concerns expressed about the shortage of toilet
paper as the Corona Virus continues. If toilet paper is not
available, can consumers use other paper products as a substitute?
Bowns said that other paper products should not be flushed down
[to top of second column]
Conzo says be prepared for tax revenue reductions
Earlier in the evening, as part of the agenda, City Treasurer Chuck
Conzo had delivered his monthly report on the city’s income. As part
of that report he urged aldermen and department heads to be mindful
of what is going to happen to some of the city’s tax revenues as a
result of the Corona Virus.
The state has suspended video gaming for the time being. This is
going to have a solid impact on the tax revenue for the state as
well as for the city. Conzo said that this is a revenue source that
will bounce back when this pandemic is over, but in the meantime,
the city should be aware that it is a loss of revenue that will
impact the bottom line.
The city can also expect temporary reductions in sales taxes as
people do stay home and shop only as needed.
A catch-22 is the reduction of the cost of gasoline. Conzo said that
typically the drop in gas price will lead to increased travel.
Because the Motor Fuel Tax is assessed per gallon instead of per
dollar, the city could have enjoyed a little increase in Motor Fuel
Tax. However, that may or may not be the case at this time. Conzo
said that maybe some who are housebound would get out and just take
a drive to get out of the house a while, but overall, there will
probably be less travel.
On the whole, Conzo urged the city officials to be very careful of
their spending at this time. He added that those who are working on
the budget for fiscal year 2020-21 should also take this into
March 24th meeting reset to March 31st
Kevin Bateman said that considering that March is a five Monday
month and also five Tuesday’s, he would suggest that the council
reschedule next week’s meeting scheduled for Tuesday March 24th. He
said with five Tuesdays, perhaps the council should move that last
Committee of the Whole meeting to Tuesday March 31st.
Aldermen agreed to do so, but also discussed digital and video
The Governor has placed a moratorium on the Public Meetings Act,
saying that during this time government meetings normally subject to
the Public Meetings Act could be held via digital or video
The city does have a provision for video or teleconferencing within
its statutes. However, it calls for there to be members present in
city hall for the meeting. Those members then vote as to whether or
not to permit teleconferencing or video conferencing of a particular
Aldermen talked about how they would go about doing a full
attendance meeting via video conferencing. Lincoln Police Chief Paul
Adams said that through their web service the city can purchase a
package that would permit all the aldermen to be connected via their
laptops, in a secure fashion. The additional cost for this service
would be $3 per month.
The conferencing does limit public access to the meetings, and would
by its nature lack transparency. Aldermen are not interested in
putting the city in that position at this time.
The next meeting of the Lincoln City Council will be held on
Tuesday, March 31st at 7 p.m. The meeting is open to the public, but
the public is encourage to instead watch the meeting via live
streaming on the city website.