• Preliminary numbers for 2014 are in and those numbers reflect a 6 percent overall drop in crime in the city.
“I believe the officers increasing patrols in neighborhoods and getting out of their cars to speak with residents and business owners had a tremendous impact on the burglary rate in Alton,” Chief Jason “Jake” Simmons said of the 24 percent decrease in the burglary rate. “If a person thinks a police officer may come around the corner at any time, they may think twice about trying to gain access to a house or business.”
Sex offenses increased 45 percent (although the arrest rate increased 250 percent) and assault and battery increased 27 percent, but theft was down 5 percent and robbery was down 15 percent.
“A 6 percent decrease in overall crime is the direct result of the hard work of each and every member of the Alton Police Department,” Mayor Brant Walker said. “I would like to recognize Chief (Jason “Jake”) Simmons for his leadership and commend all members of our police department for their continued commitment to the safety of our city.”
Alton saw two murders in 2014, up from one in 2013. Both were solved and the offenders arrested. Alton Police Department Public Information Officer Emily Hejna says both incidents were related to criminal activity and neither was a random act of violence.
• Aldermen have approved the increase of a number of city fees to become city ordinances.
Fee increases will include the institution of a $50 demolition fee, a $150 appeal filing fee with the Building Board of Appeals, a $30 nonrefundable fee for a fence permit application, and $15 for each $1,000 of construction cost at any non-residentially zoned property.
Also on tap to increase are 100-amp service fees from $20 to $35, 200-amp service fees from $30 to $45, 400-amp service fees from $60 to $90, 800-amp service fees from $100 to $135, illuminated sign circuit fees from $20 to $30, and plumbing permits from $25 to $45.
The ordinances are expected to be voted on within the next month.
• The city of Alton has announced that it has lowered its Insurance Service Office Public Protection Classification to a Class 2. Through collaborative efforts with the Alton Fire Department, Alton Police Department 911 Dispatch Center and Illinois-American Water Co., residential and commercial property owners may enjoy lower property insurance premiums.
Grading relies on fire department operations, 911 alarm dispatching and water supply.
“As fire chief, I must continuously evaluate our operation so that we can best meet the needs of the people we serve; the ISO evaluation is one of the many tools that I use to assist in accomplishing this task,” Fire Chief Bernie Sebold said.
“This rating places the Alton Fire Department in rare company as part of only 2 percent of fire departments in the entire United States to receive an ISO rating of 2,” Mayor Brant Walker said. “I commend the work of Chief Sebold and congratulate the entire Alton Fire Department for this important designation.”