Two Evanston programs honored by regional council of local governments

Dalia Naamani-Goldman

Evanston recently learned it won two of five awards presented by the Northwest Municipal Conference.

The city won the Best Practices Revenue Enhancement Award for the Scofflaw Payment Program and the Best Practices Communication and Technology Award for its online parking ticket appeals program.

“I’m very proud we run (the programs),” said Ald. Stephen Engelman (7th). “They are excellent and innovative.”

Wayne Moran, head of the administrative hearings division, came up with the ideas for both programs.

“Wayne Moran deserves credit for an excellent job done in shaping the programs and looking for ways to work better,” Engelman said.

The Scofflaw Payment Program is composed of two ordinances. One allows the city to deny its services to debtors if it does not receive payment from them; it exempts fire, police, 911 and garbage collection. The second ordinance prohibits debtors from selling property.

“The greatest thing about about that program is that the city doesn’t have to do anything to get payment,” Moran said.

According to city estimates, the program has brought in nearly $750,000 for Evanston so far this year — $300,000 more than the city collected last year.

Moran said his office has sent out a couple hundred copies of the ordinances to various municipalities and even states.

Moran proposed the idea to conduct parking appeals online after reading about a court case that rendered computer records acceptable in the judicial system. About 30 to 50 people appeal online every week, Moran said.

“We believe we’re the first in the nation to offer something like that,” said Donna Stuckert, city spokeswoman.

She said the city submitted the two programs for the awards because they were “unique and successful.”

This is the first year the Northwest Municipal Conference presented awards. Managers on the Best Practices Committee wanted to “highlight those trying to improve (municipal) services,” said Tara Lopresti, program associate of human resources.

Areas of submission included communications and technology, health and human services, human resources and education, public safety, and revenue enhancement. Thirty-eight programs were submitted by the 45 municipalities and five townships that comprise the conference. Buffalo Grove, Northbrook and Hoffman Estate also were honored.

The winners will receive the awards Nov. 13 at the conference’s monthly board meeting.

“It’s a big honor for us,” Stuckert said. “It’s nice to know peers in other cities think we’re doing something right.”