Members of the Benld City Council on Monday night amended the city’s nuisance property ordinance to strengthen enforcement provisions, approved $4,470 in repairs to a city police car and approved a water tower maintenance contract.
With Ald. Dustin Fletcher and Ald. Brian Frensko absent, the council voted unanimously to approve the beefed-up public nuisance ordinance on a motion by Ald. Teressa Tucker, seconded by Ald. Mickey Robinson. The measure was briefly discussed during the January meeting of the council. On Monday night, City Attorney Rick Verticchio presented a proposed amended ordinance for consideration.
The amendment strengthens penalties to match those imposed by the city last August for residents who fail to cut grass or weeds on their properties. Under provisions of the new ordinance, residents with accumulations of trash or debris will be cited for an ordinance violation but can have the ticket dismissed by resolving the issue within a specified period of time. If the problem isn’t addressed, the city will file a complaint in Macoupin County Circuit Court to seek the imposition of a fine. Upon a second offense, the property owner will be required to appear in court and pay a maximum fine of $500, which can be reduced to $150 if the property owner brings the property within compliance within a specified period of time. Upon the third and subsequent offenses, the city will ask the court to impose the maximum fine of $500 with no opportunity for the property owner to have the fine reduced.
In a somewhat related matter, Verticchio told council members the new ordinance could probably be used to enforce provisions requiring residents to remove garbage receptacles from the street shortly after pick-up. Ald. Jim Tilashalski expressed concerns about the issue, saying he counted 12 receptacles left out on one just a day or so after pick-up.
Verticchio said the city could cite residents who leave receptacles on the street by considering them “junk or trash because that’s what’s stored in them.”
POLICE CAR REPAIRS & WATER TOWER MAINTENANCE
Council members voted unanimously to authorize spending $4,470 to replace the engine in a 2012 Dodge vehicle used as a police patrol car with a used engine. The action was somewhat of a formality since Custom Classics, Benld, had already begun work on the vehicle, expecting it to be back on the street either Tuesday or Wednesday.
Mayor Jim Kelly said city officials considered having the engine in the vehicle rebuilt but discovered it was about $3,000 less expensive to replace the unit. The work carries a one-year warranty with unlimited mileage.
On a motion by Ald. Robinson, the council unanimously approved an $820 contract with Corrpro Co., a subsidiary of Aegion, Inc., headquartered in St. Louis, Mo., to perform maintenance work on the city’s water tower, including changing out bulbs in safety beacons on the tower to provide a visual warning to aircraft in the area.
On Mayor Kelly’s recommendation, the council also agreed to rent a side boom mower and tractor from Woody’s Equipment for one week at a cost of $2,800, plus a $180 delivery and pick-up charge. The equipment will be used primarily for annual maintenance of brush and vegetation at the sewage lagoon, but may also be used to trim brush within reach of the street along the city creek. Kelly said the unit would be rented during a week when no personnel has vacation time scheduled to maximize the time the unit can be used.
Council members voted unanimously to renew a three-year contract with Flowers Sanitation to pick-up garbage throughout the city at the same cost currently charged. The contract includes provisions for the provider to negotiate annual increases by Feb. 1 for each of the last two years of the contract.
In other action, the council authorized the Mayor to sign-off on an aggregate bid to supply electrical power to city-owned properties when the bid becomes available. Kelly said when he is notified of the bid, the city is usually given only one day to accept or reject the pricing.
CITY-WIDE CLEAN-UP DAY
Council members agreed to set May 9 as the date for a city-wide clean-up day. Residents must have items for pick-up by Flowers Sanitation on the curbside in front of their homes by 6 a.m. Discarded furniture, appliances and other bulky items will be picked up. Items for pick-up must occupy a space no larger than four feet wide by eight feet long by six feet high.
Landscape waste and construction waste such as bricks, cement, masonry, and paint will not be picked up. Also excluded are items considered hazardous or forbidden by law such as tires, batteries, chemicals, burn barrels and electronics such as televisions, computers and peripherals. Clean-up crews also will not pick up household trash that would normally be picked up weekly by disposal firms.
No action followed a 15-minute executive session with Verticchio during which the council and City Attorney apparently discussed litigation related to a housing issue.
GOLF CART DISCUSSION
The council briefly discussed the need to update an ordinance governing the use of golf carts within the city limits. Ald. Tilashalski said the council approved an ordinance 10 years ago that complied with state laws in place at that time. Verticchio, however, said the state has since changed standards applicable to golf carts.
“If you’re going to try to control them at all you need to pass this,” Verticchio said, referring to a model ordinance provided to aldermen. “The new law is a lot more specific.”
“Do we want golf carts in the city?” Ald. Tucker asked.
“I don’t care,” Mayor Kelly replied. “What we’re saying is that if we don’t do anything, people will be able to do whatever they want.”
The council is expected to take action on a proposed ordinance next month.
WATER BILL PROCEDURES
City Clerk Terri Koyne reported that her office stuffed 160 late bills to be mailed by regular mail to water customers who have failed to pay bills on time. She said Monday was the deadline for paying monthly bills but some customers may have believed the office was closed on Monday.
Customers who have not paid their bill or made arrangements to pay by Feb. 28 will be sent a letter by registered mail demanding full payment. “At that point, it’s pay it all,” Koyne said. “They’re past the point of making arrangements.”
Those who fail to pay after receiving the registered letter will face shut off as of March 5.
Verticchio said sending the first letter by regular mail and reserving registered mail for the second notice will cut collection efforts by a substantial amount.
In other action, Mayor Kelly reported that HMG engineers will attend the March council meeting to report on the firm’s survey of sewer facilities and recommendations for applying for grant funds to facilitate a sewer improvement project.