SYCAMORE – The City Council on Monday approved the police department’s request to adopt a local adjudication system and added a $500 administrative tow fee for offenders.
With 2nd Ward Alderman Chuck Stowe absent, council members voted, 7-0, in favor of the changes Monday.
The new system will allow offenders to resolve citations before an administrative hearing officer – an attorney with special training to act as a judge in civil matters. Offenders also would be allowed to contest parking citations through the mail, rather than in court, Sycamore Police Chief Glenn Theriault said.
“It will still take a few months for us to get the process up and running,” he said. “Only violators will notice the change.”
Police expect the adjudication system to be ready this fall.
The council also approved a police request to replace a portion of the city code addressing motor vehicles and traffic. As a result of Monday’s vote, the city will charge a $500 administrative tow fee to shift the cost of enforcement for criminal traffic violations from taxpayers to the offenders.
Stowe had expressed his concerns about the tow fee when it was first proposed April 4. The administrative system, he worried, would deny drivers due process.
“I still feel about the same way, but I guess we’ll just have to see how it works out,” Stowe said.
Changes to the department’s vehicle policies are the first of many to come for the city code, which staff will review and and update in the next few months, City Manager Brian Gregory has said.
Under the new section, Sycamore will comply with the Illinois Vehicle Code, and exclude policies that are no longer relevant, Theriault said.
“It’s largely cleaning up the code to eliminate outdated codes that no longer apply, such as parking on railroad tracks, given that we have no railroad tracks in town,” he said. “It also updates the traffic schedule, which controls where signs are posted on the street, and provides a couple of new enforcement tools, such as distracted driving.”
The new municipal code bars drivers from reading, writing, interacting with pets, and any other behavior that could interfere with their concentration, city documents show. Police have also simplified parking meter enforcement to require fees from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
“What this combination of ordinances really does for us is provide us a level of enforcement that we didn’t have before,” Theriault said.