Police chief, special event fees topic Tuesday night

By: Stephanie Dumm, News Messenger Reporter
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Lincoln City Council unanimously voted Tuesday night to retain Police Chief Paul Shelgren as an interim police chief, following his retirement next Wednesday. “I received a retirement letter and he plans to retire on May 2. I have been speaking to him for some time about possibly retaining his services in an interim capacity until that time when we reach fiscal sustainability and can afford bringing in a full-time police chief,” Lincoln City Manager Jim Estep said at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. “He has generously offered to stay on as a retired annuitant.” Estep said that means Shelgren can only work 960 hours per year and may work for “six months at half time or some variation.” As a retired annuitant, Estep said, Shelgren would “come at a very reduced rate” at $62,335 per year. “We won’t have to pay him benefits in his interim role as a retired annuitant and he will be paid at the lowest step as opposed to his current step as police chief,” Estep said. Councilman Gabriel Hydrick asked Shelgren for “a picture of what your work week might be.” “I don’t suspect my actual work habits to change much,” Shelgren said. “I intend it to be pretty seamless.” City Council also approved a resolution “calling for an election to make the position of city treasurer appointive rather than elected.” City Attorney John Hobbs said the council directed city staff to look into “the possibility of the treasurer being an appointed position rather than elected.” Voters will decide on Nov. 6 if they would like the city treasurer to be an elected or appointed position, according to Hobbs. If voters decide the city treasurer should remain elected, Hobbs said, residents would need to vote who they’d like to have as treasurer from available candidates. New special event permit processes and fees were also approved Tuesday by City Council. The city’s recreation supervisor Kristine Pelzman said that “instead of obtaining an encroachment permit for a special event, neighborhood block party or banner,” those holding events will now “obtain a newly-formed Special Event Permit, block party permit or banner permit.” Starting Jan. 1, 2013, a banner permit for banners hung at First Street and Joiner Parkway would be $95; a neighborhood block party permit is $95; and there would be three levels for a special-event permit. A class-one event is a gathering of 50 to 99 people and costs $95 with a damage deposit of $250, Pelzman said. A class-two event would have more than 100 in attendance and has a fee of $125 with a $500 damage deposit, Pelzman said. A class-two event would mean an attendance of more than 1,000 participants, with a $150 fee and $750 damage deposit, Pelzman said. Alcohol sales and consumption would mean an additional $50 fee and a road closure would also be $50, according to Pelzman. Mayor Spencer Short asked if the damage deposit was “more of a cleaning deposit.” “There was a case a few years ago that spray paint was painted on the streets,” Pelzman said. “There have been instances where events have left excessive garbage that city staff has had to go clean up.” The incident including spray paint was from the May 2010 Italian Festival. The festival’s organizer addressed the council. “I’m president of Friends of Lincoln Kids and I have a grievance on the subject of paint on the street,” Jeff Greenberg joked. “It was our fault because I was in charge.” Greenberg said the new fees “will impact what we do.” Greenberg also stressed the importance “of bringing people into Lincoln” through events like his. “It’s very important that we make this a visitor-friendly city in hopes that we will net these visitors to become residents of the city,” Greenberg said. “We need to have new businesses in town. They bring fees, sales tax and bring more people coming into the downtown sector.” Paul Apfel, president of the new Art League of Lincoln, said he “views any increase in fees for events to be held by nonprofits with a great deal of concern.” “An increase in fees could work against our best interests and the best interests of the city of Lincoln and citizens,” Apfel said. Lincoln Area Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Bob Romness asked if the city’s recreation department “could hold” the damage and cleaning deposit check instead of cashing it in the event that “everything is fine.” “It’s fine. You can hold the check,” Hobbs told city staff.