Court fee increase approved

By Corene Brisendine

Going to court is about to become a little more expensive.

City commissioners unanimously approved raising municipal court fees for upgrading some computer software at Tuesday night’s meeting.

A $10 technology fee will be added to all municipal court fees except parking tickets next year.

City Attorney Bill Raymond said the fee won’t go into effect until 2014, because it is a charter ordinance item, and therefore requires a 60-day grace period for public input.

Raymond said that once the ordinance goes into effect, the fees will pay for the upgrade and an accompanying maintenance contract.

The total cost of the upgrade is estimated at $244,461, with revenues over the next five years projected to be $369,000.

Raymond said any additional revenues must be used to purchase “technologies” for the courts according to the ordinance. He gave examples of technologies as more computers, keyboards or copiers.

Mayor John Matta said that the upgrades also should save time and paper for court and Riley County Police Department under the new system. He directed city staff to provide an analysis of those potential savings before the second reading.

Commissioners also unanimously approved rezoning of the Manhattan Area Technical College from a residential district to a university district.

Eric Cattell, assistant direct for planning, said the university district is stricter than the residential district, because buildings must set back further from the street and parking must be screened.

Commissioners also approved modifications to the Planned Unit Development (PUD) at the corner of Claflin Road and Denison Avenue, but with conditions.

They voted 5-0 to accept city officials’ recommendations to deny the portion of the modification that would allow future residential use, and updated the PUD permissible uses to current standards.

The request to convert the second floor into classroom space was also approved.

On the consent agenda, commissioners Karen McCulloh and Usha Reddi objected to Matta’s appointment of Chuck Henderson to the Social Services Advisory Board.

Commissioner Rich Jankovich wanted to know if Matta had vetted Henderson, because Henderson had said on his application that he wanted to serve only because one of the current board members urged him to do so.

Matta confirmed he had spoken to Henderson about who had urged him to serve, but Matta accepted that the answer on the application was an attempt at humor.

“I was disappointed in that application,” McCulloh said. “We also need to look for more diversity on these boards.”

Henderson’s appointment was approved by a 3-2 vote with McCulloh and Reddi opposing.

All other items on the consent agenda were approved unanimously, except for the Blue River Channel Transportation Enhancement Stormwater Project. Jankovich abstained because of a conflict of interest, and it passed 4-0-1.

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