Geneseo Council votes to amend Ordinance to allow certain violations to be charged as local offenses. How does it affect us?

Beth Welbers
Geneseo Republic

The Geneseo Council met Tuesday January 25, with a full agenda of issues to address. 

The Council had the amending of City Ordinances presented to them by Chief Casey Disterhof.  Certain offenses can be charged as a violation of City Ordinance, rather than charged as a criminal offense.  An example, a schoolyard fight between high school students that can be charged as a lesser offense in the City code, as opposed to charging the students with a battery charge, which would require court appearances, and potentially leave a criminal charge on their record.

"Once a state citation is issued, or an arrest made, this information will follow that individual throughout their lifetime.  By allowing officers discretion to issue a city ordinance citation for these minor offenses, when the circumstances call for it, we can prevent the individual from needlessly having a lifelong record.  City ordinance citations are not used to cite violent or unruly individuals, they are used to cite those who may make a onetime minor mistake in judgement." explained Disterhof.

The Council agreed to amend the ordinance, and adopt the changes that would allow those offenses to be dealt with locally.  Fine monies would remain in Geneseo, rather than go to the state. The handling of these incidents locally would help alleviate the backlog of cases currently in the State's Attorney's office.  

Councilman Brett Barnhart asked City Attorney Derek Price how this could negatively affect the City, and the reply was "None.  The City will have a more efficient method of charging, whether criminal or administrative.  It just gives us more tools in our toolbox."

The next issue to address was to review the fees charged by the City for each gambling machine that is in operation.  Currently each machine is charged at $25 each. New legislation allows an increase to $250 each.  Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Zack Sullivan spoke in opposition to the measure, having taken a straw poll of participating members. 

City Administrator, Jo Hollenkamp did call attention to the fact that of the $250, $125 of it would be paid by the machine owners, leaving a net obligation of only $125 by the bar owners. 

The Council approved the increase of the terminal fees from $25 to $250.

The proposition was brought to the Council to develop the site of the former Burke Cleaners, a property owned by the City, into a "pocket park", with benches or picnic tables.  Chamber director Sullivan advocated that this would be an enhancement to the downtown area, a place for shoppers to relax and perhaps enjoy a beverage from one of the downtown purveyors.  Some further discussion occurred regarding some mural work which is in the plans for other locations in the downtown, as well as an art project proposed by Sheila Wigant-Mcgee that was suggested for the pocket park.  The Council decided to discuss the concept further, and no decision was made. 

More: City Administrator: "Will miss the City with all my heart"

The Council got the opportunity to thank Joann Hollenkamp for her service as City Administrator, as she will be resigning effective February 9, and taking a position in southern Illinois, in order to spend more time with her husband.  Brandon Maeglin, City Clerk will be assuming the duties of Interim City Administrator.   The Council also voted to allow Maeglin to advertise and hire for an Acting City Clerk or Administrative Assistant, depending on his assessment of the duties to be performed. 

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