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Springfield court gets power to set some penalties
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The Springfield City Council voted to authorize the Municipal Court to impose penalties for violations of the charter or city ordinances.

Police Chief Paul Wynn said an ordinance from the 1950s was requested by the municipal judge to show he has the authority to penalize people for breaking an ordinance.

City Manager Brett Bennett told the council the penalties described are only for ordinances that do not have a penalty in the ordinance.

“It’s a catch all,” Bennett said.

He said if an ordinance does not clarify the penalties for violation this ordinance gives the judge the authority to set a penalty for the offense.

The ordinance allows the municipal court to fine up to $1,000, the state maximum for misdemeanor charges. The court also will be allowed to fine $500 and/or 20 days in jail for contempt of court.

The council discussed contracting with the county for property tax billing.

City Clerk Gaye Paquet told the council the city of Guyton utilizes this service.

“They would do the billing, the collection and they would keep 2.5 percent,” she said. “It would save us a lot of time and headaches. Right now, I’m getting in a lot of changes that the board of equalization has made. Then in a lot of cases issue a refund.”

She said it would be one tax bill that is sent out for the county, city and school taxes.

“The only drawback is the council would have to adopt a mill levy by the end of June,” Paquet said.

Mayor Barton Alderman said the fee also includes follow up on tax collections, and that could make up the fee amount for the city.

Councilman Max Niedlinger said he would like to see a comparison of how much it costs the city currently to do tax collections compared to how much contracting with the county would cost.

Councilman Charles Hinely said if they would do follow up he believed the fee would be worth it. He said the kicker is the requirement to have the millage rate set by the end of June.

The requirement is due to the county’s fiscal year, which runs from July to June. Springfield works on the calendar year.

Bennett said the council may not have time to set the millage by June this year and contract with the county, but the city could work toward it for next year if that is what needs to be done.

Paquet said those she has spoken with at Guyton like the service.

The council did not take action, but decided to revisit the tax billing at a future meeting.

The council approved a contract with Moreland Altobelli Associates, Inc. for the acquisition of utility easements along Highway 21 for the water line project that will connect the city’s two water systems.

Alderman said the contract has been approved, pending final approval by the city attorney.

He said the council also approved allowing Bennett to act as the city’s representation during negotiations for the easements as long as requests are reasonable.