Council waives $19,000 in fees for café

By: Brandon Darnell, Gold Country News Service
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LINCOLN — A business owner from Auburn had $19,000 in inspection fees waived by the Lincoln City Council. Auburn resident Joanne Neft received a late bill for $19,000 in inspection services to the Persimmon Café in the 400 block of A Street in Lincoln. Neft said that she had already closed financing and received her certificate of occupation in May 2006, then was billed for services she was unaware of eight months later. She asked City Council to waive the fees at its Tuesday, Dec. 9 meeting. Neft likened her experience to buying a car, then being charged 10 months later for the doors, mirrors and headlights. According to the City Council agenda, the bill came at a time of transition in the payment schedule, when procedures for the dates of billing were being changed. Council members Tom Cosgrove, Linda Stackpoole, Paul Joiner and Kent Nakata all agreed with Neft, saying that in this economic climate, it is important to support local businesses and that it was the city’s mistake that caused the problem in the first place. Mayor Spencer Short disagreed, pointing out that city staff had recently offered to give Neft a loan for the inspection charges, at little or no interest, and that she had refused. Short said that the work was done and he didn’t like the idea of handing out $19,000 in this economy. He also feared that approving the waiving of the fees could set a precedent for anyone else who has fallen under similar circumstances with billing from the city. Director of Financial and Admin- istrative Services Steve Ambrose said it was unclear how many similar instances may currently exist. Cosgrove countered Short’s argument by saying that he would not be willing to pay an additional bill that came months later for another 20 percent of the cost on an already purchased item. A vote was called and Short was the only one to vote against waiving the fees, with the four other council members approving the waiver.