AP NEWS

Dixon considers creating municipal court

April 4, 2019

DIXON – The city is considering creating an administrative hearing process for non-criminal offenses and building code violations in the hopes of cutting down on legal fees, bringing in more revenue and increasing code compliance.

When people don’t pay citation fines or comply with the violations, they go through the Lee County court system, which can be lengthy and costly to the city.

City staff are proposing implementing a quasi-judicial process similar to Sterling and Rock Falls where the matter can be wrapped up in one administrative hearing.

If someone doesn’t pay a fine at the hearing, the city could go through the Illinois Comptroller’s Local Debt Recovery Program that allows cities to collect fees from tax refunds, lottery payouts or payroll checks.

“I think this would save time and money and make it easier to recoup fees,” Dixon Police Chief Steve Howell told the City Council earlier this week.

The city’s cost is estimated to be around $1,600 a month for an administrative hearing official and software to manage non-criminal offenses and code violations – it likely wouldn’t include parking tickets.

City Manager Danny Langloss said they’re more interested in getting people in compliance with codes rather than being heavy handed with fines, but some people just refuse to comply.

It’s hoped the process will make enforcement easier.

“I think we could do a lot more of the enforcement end of things with this,” Building Official Paul Shiaras said.

Councilmen Dennis Considine and Kevin Marx said they were concerned that the expenses would outweigh the revenue with the program. Langloss pointed out that the revenue far exceeds the costs in Sterling and Rock Falls.

In February alone, Sterling collected $4,540 and Rock Falls $1,625 from administrative hearings.

The council would need to approve an ordinance before moving forward.