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Municipal court coming soon to Dixon

DIXON – The city is slated to roll out its new municipal court in January to address code, building and some vehicle violations.

The City Council started discussing the concept in April with the goal of cutting down on legal fees, bringing in more revenue and increasing code compliance, as well as making enforcement easier. Members moved forward with establishing city code and purchasing software in June.

Similar to Sterling and Rock Falls, the municipal court will be a quasi-judicial process where noncriminal violations can be wrapped up in one administrative hearing rather than a lengthy court process, and fines that aren’t paid would go to collections or circuit court.

Violations that could be enforced include parking and vehicle registration, but not moving violations. Others include housing, building and zoning code violations, and engineering and health safety violations.

Mayor Li Arellano Jr. appointed attorney Paul Whitcombe as the administrative hearing officer who will have the authority to issue determinations in the municipal court. The City Council approved the appointment Monday.

Whitcombe, one of two applicants, has a diverse background and already has the needed training, Arellano said.

He has been in private practice nearly 2 decades, and was Lee County’s state attorney for 4 years, from 2004 to 2008, and its public defender for 8 years before that. Whitcombe has his own firm in Dixon, is a criminal defense attorney and also handles divorce, family law and DUI/traffic cases.

The city also will designate a hearing administrator, who will oversee the computer system.

The council previously approved a $20,000 contract with Palos Heights-based Municipal Systems Inc. for software, training and other costs. Once set up, there also will be a $950-a- month cost for the first 3 years of using the system.

They’re looking to start the process in early January, City Manager Danny Langloss said.

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