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Elgin Council session to cover code enforcement, winter woes

ElgCity Manager Sean Stegall. | Sun-Times Medifile

Elgin City Manager Sean Stegall. | Sun-Times Media file

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Updated: April 1, 2014 10:21AM

ELGIN — Code 2.0 is what City Manager Sean Stegall is calling a plan in the works that would rethink how Elgin addresses code enforcement issues.

That will serve as one on a plateful of topics at Saturday’s special committee of the whole session, the first of one planned for each quarter this year.

Stegall said code enforcement is the most difficult topic the city deals with on a daily basis, in part because it involves stories and anecdotes.

When it comes to code violations, “You hear from people, and they want the bad guys to get hammered, but the good guys deserve a break,” Stegall said.

Without unveiling the specifics, Stegall said the discussion will touch on how code enforcement officials will be able to exercise judgment while doing their jobs and still pass muster in how courts might look at enforcement.

“They need to have the ability to look at the complete picture,” Stegall said.

Stegall said this project is several years in the making. He and Community Development Director Marc Mylott will have a list of recommendations for the council to consider.

Among them will be looking at some ordinances on the books that might be overly stringent. Stegall gave the example of how people could be fined if they put their garbage out too early.

They also might include the possibility of setting up a system of warnings granted for certain code violations before fines are issued.

While the city budget has one spot open for hiring another code officer, Stegall would like the council to consider adding more positions to bring “the best and brightest” on board for a program he said would be unique.

“(The discussion) is about what they hope to accomplish with code enforcement,” Stegall said.

Snow business

Among more than a half dozen topics set for the special meeting, Stegall also will present a snow and ice report, updating the council on how much has been spent on overtime from snowplowing in this lingering, rough winter.

Another winter problem caused in part by more than 4 feet of frozen ground has been more than 30 frozen points in water lines before they get to homes. While some have required digging, as a stopgap measure until a thaw, Stegall said the city is running connections from fire hydrants to these houses, with the property owners not being billed for the water from such setups.

Stegall said no crews have been put on overtime to fix potholes, but that could change in April, when an eventual spring thaw will mean even more potholes appearing.

The council also will discuss hiring a communications director sometime this year and seeking vendors to provide marketing services promoting the city.

Elgin has not had a communications director in about 14 years, Stegall said. More recently, Elgin had a public information officer, but the position was eliminated in late 2010.

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