Pekin City Councilman Mark Luft says he has been trying to get information that is necessary for council discussions on two issues — employee residency in the city of Pekin and fee policies.
Both of those issues will finally be discussed by the Council at Monday’s open meeting, said Luft.
Pekin City Manager Tony Carson declined to talk about Council meeting items before he addresses his remarks to the Council.
“I’ve brought this to the attention for the last year and for some reason it continues to be put on the back burner — not by the people who have motioned to discuss it,” said Luft. “But it needs to come off the back burner, just like several other issues that have been put off for whatever reason.
“I have to tell you, in the two years that I’ve been sitting up here, if I had to make a top five list of issues that taxpayers have asked me about, that would be in the top five. I think it frustrates some people to either not know or know that employees don’t have to (live in the city limits). But if you have people that are making budget decisions, contractual decisions, requesting increases in fees, requesting increases in taxes, involved in contract negotiations and investing taxpayers money — these people should have to have skin in the game.”
Luft said he requested a document with the chain of command of city employees and received it from Carson. Luft also requested a list of current positions that require living in the city limits and documents showing the rules are being upheld. He has not received that information.
The Council and the city manager all have to live in the city limits. The requirement, said Luft, should be that employees should be paying the city garbage fee, wastewater fees to pay for the $60 million wastewater plant and whatever other fees would be applicable.
Luft wants two things to come from Monday’s meeting, the first being dialog about employees living outside of the city limits. He hopes to have the information on who lives where before the meeting.
The other issue is policy making and fees attached to various services.
“The Code Enforcement Department, as can any other department, can recommend anything — any kind of fees increasing a fee — they can recommend that, but the process is that recommendation comes to the Council and the Council decides if that fee should be implemented or not,” said Luft, referring to a rumor that a new fee had been set for roofing fees.
John Lebegue, building inspection and development director for the city, said the fee for a roofing permit is based on the cost of the roofing project and always has been that way.
The point, said Luft, is that many policies are outdated. He has requested adding an extra meeting each month to go through the policies and update them.
“I know Peoria, every two years their Council takes on an extra meeting a month to go through those and make sure of what the policies are addressing and what they need them to be for their future goals and where they’re heading,” said Luft. “It’s very, very important to do that, and of course, with the Council 90 percent of their job is with policy.
“So for us not to be addressing these policies that have been sitting for years and gathering dust, to approach them on the ‘We’ll wait until something comes up that address that policy,’ that’s not how we should be doing business.”
Follow Sharon Woods Harris at Twitter.com/sharrispekin