By Rosemary K. Otzman
Belleville City Clerk/Treasurer Lisa Long has been working for months on getting a company to provide online and in person credit/debit card payments for city taxes, water, dog tags, and other fees.
The most important part of the project was to make sure the city didn’t have to pay anything for the service.
City residents and employees have been asking for such a service, especially now that the city water fees are billed monthly.
At last, on March 18, Clerk/Treasurer Long presented the Point and Pay E-Payment Services Agreement to the City Council and got a round of congratulations and thanks from council members.
“I just wanted to make sure there were no fees for us and I kept asking them,” Long said.
She said Point and Pay wants the city to promote the service in every way it can. She noted that the city’s internet technology person has put in measures for security and the city attorney’s issues have been cleared up.
It will cost users 3% of the total to pay taxes and $1.50 for every $50 paid at the counter and online. E-checks can be used, too.
In other business at the March 18 meeting, the council:
• Set the annual citywide yard sale for Saturday, Sept. 7, and Sunday, Sept. 8, the weekend after Labor Day. No yard sale permits are required on these days, but if people want to start their sales on Thursday or Friday, they must get permits;
• Held a public hearing and then approved amendments to the utility ordinance. This allows billing for water per gallon and per thousand gallons (since some meters don’t read in gallons) and the ability to shut off water for those not allowing access for meter installation or maintenance and to send shut-off notices by certified mail. DPW Director Keith Boc said there are 18 residents who are denying the city entry and some have threatened to sue. The city attorney asked that the process be spelled out in the ordinance. Former councilman George Chedraue, an attorney, said you cannot shut people’s water off before a hearing and, “You cannot shut any utilities off without a court order.” Mayor Kerreen Conley said the city attorney has positioned the ordinance the best he can and, “The status quo of doing nothing doesn’t work for us.” She said if there is a problem, “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it”;
• Held a public hearing and then adopted changes to the building ordinance, requiring an inspection and a certificate of occupancy anytime a commercial, residential, or one- or two-family dwelling is newly occupied or reoccupied. This does not cover apartment buildings;
• Approved general fund budget amendments for Fiscal Year 2012-13 as prepared by Plante Moran worker Molly Goike in a procedure she called “midyear housekeeping”. She said they are using $4,620 of the fund balance and increasing the unrestricted fund balance of $730. She said property taxes were reduced by $10,500 because of tax tribunal decisions and the city under estimated shared revenue and has $9,900 more than expected. She said city management is in negotiations with the school district for payment for the school resource officer. Expenditures in the police department were up $7,400 because of wages/fringes brought by employment changes, including an interim police chief. The fire department expenditures were reduced by $10,950 and it still has $10,000 more than it had last year in the budget;
• Approved the National Autism Day fund raiser from noon to dusk April 2 at Five Points and the High/Main intersection. Fire Chief Brian Loranger said it will be a boot collection by fire fighters and the auxiliary to raise funds for autism;
• Approved extension for another year of the radio tower lease agreement the city has granted to LiveTV Airfone Inc. for 174 square feet under the tower behind city hall. Rent to the city is increased by 3% to $1,530.21 per month after July 1. The lease agreement started in 1995 with payment of $8,400 a year and the fee has gone up a lot since then;
• Approved the mayor’s reappointment of Betty Kurczewski to the Parks and Recreation Commission with a term to expire Dec. 31, 2016;
• Approved accounts payable of $145,369.98 and departmental purchases in excess of $500 to: Morton Salt, $4,434.92 for salt for roads, paid by Major/Local Street fund; and to R.L. Evans Elec. $795 to repair street lights, from General Fund/DDA;
• Learned there is expected to be no water use available to parts of Main Street as the sewer lining project progresses down the street. There is a proposal to use a pump to avoid cutting off the water;
• Heard Police Chief Gene Taylor say that Cpl. Kris Faull apprehended a stolen car at Comerica Bank by being in the right place at the right time. There also was discussion about the museum’s alarm going off five days in a row at 7:15 a.m. with the determination that maybe there is a glitch in the system;
• Heard Tom Fielder announce that Doug Dalton has agreed to do an appraisal session on May 11 to earn money for the museum. Antiques on Main could list the antique for people after the appraisal, Fielder said;
• Put out a call for volunteers to be appointed to the Parks and Recreation Commission because members are needed; and
• Went into closed session to discuss the police union contract and when it came into open session a motion was made by Mayor Pro Tem Jack Loria and seconded by Councilman Brian Blackburn to approve the police contract. Clerk / Treasurer Long said there were a few minor changes in the contract, including a date, but no pay raises.
By Rosemary K. Otzman