City council tables ordinance for vacant property registration

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DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA) — The city council decided to table an ordinance that requires owners of vacant and foreclosed to register their property and pay a registration fee.

City Manager Scot Wrighton said properties would go onto the registry if they are vacant for 60 days and have one or more code violations. Officials said it is meant to help identify the owners and hold them responsible for taking care of the property so the City does not have to spend their time and resources caring for it.

The council decided to table it Monday night after constituents raised concerns and questions about the program and they want to get more information about it before establishing a vote. The council asked City staff to look into putting a point-by-point explanation of the program on the City’s website so residents could ask more questions and give their opinion. There was no definite date of when the ordinance could come before council once more.

In the same meeting, council also approved a couple grants from the CARES Act. The first one was for first responders. Police Chief Jim Getz said they would use the $99,423 to buy PPE and additional goods to help them get through the pandemic.

The other grant money approved was for the Mass Transit department. They received $4.5 million that would go towards replacing two trolleys, installing plexiglass on buses and give bus drivers a higher pay rate. Officials said since this money is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City would use the money to pay a “hazard pay” to those bus drivers during that time period.

Officials said they are using part of that money to replace trolley cars as a way of increasing their fleet during the pandemic. They said they could use the cars for a time if needed to help spread patrons out among the trolley cars to promote social distancing. After the pandemic, they would plan to retire the old trolleys as they are 19 years old.

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