Mayor Chris Beutler today will present the Mayor's Award of Excellence for February to Assistant City Treasurer Joel Wittrock. The award will be presented at the beginning of today's City Council meeting at 3 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, County-City Building, 555 S. 10th St. The monthly award recognizes City employees who consistently provide exemplary service and work that demonstrates personal commitment to the City.
Wittrock has worked for the City since 1999. He was nominated by City Treasurer Melinda Jones in the categories of customer relations, loss prevention and productivity for his work on the database for the Police Department Alarm Registration Program.
In May of last year, the City Treasurer's office took over the database for the Alarm Registration program, as well as the billing and posting of payments. The City had used a private billing company, but its contract was not renewed because of citizen complaints.
Among the problems Wittrock faced were accounts that had not been invoiced and accounts that were not valid due to the closing of a business or a move by the homeowner. The billing company had also collected about $15,000 in unearned revenue, but was unable to apply the payments to the correct accounts. In some cases there were duplicate payments.
Jones wrote that Wittrock did a detailed review of the database and cleaned up the information so the office was able to operate with accurate and current data. The review included tracing all prior payments and invoiced amounts to determine the correct amounts due, collected or overpaid. Wittrock processed more than 170 refunds, returning about $9,500 to Lincoln citizens and recovering about $4,800 in revenue for the City.
By December, he had reduced the balance in the unearned revenue account from $15,000 to about $500. Wittrock closed about 1,900 inactive or incorrect accounts. Melinda said he also added 402 accounts by reviewing police calls to determine if the Alarm Registration City Code was applicable and then creating an account to collect the fee. Since the City took over the billing and collections, it has collected about $45,000 more than the billing company did in the same time period. Jones said Wittrock did this database review in addition to his regular duties, and while filling in for an open position twice, training new employees and covering for absent employees.
She wrote, "The City's success in the Alarm Registration comes from many employees who played a role in the development of our system, from creating the database to creating our forms and FAQ's on our web site. However, due to Joel's continued efforts in drilling down into the detail of these thousands of accounts to determine their correct status, he has cleaned up the information to allow us to be even more successful and respondent to our citizens." Jones said that by insuring the data is accurate, Wittrock has improved the perception of the Alarm Registration program.
The other categories in which employees can be nominated are safety and valor. Consideration also may be given to nominations that demonstrate self-initiated accomplishments or those completed outside of the nominee's job description. All City employees are eligible for the Mayor's Award of Excellence except for elected and appointed officials.
Individuals or teams can be nominated by supervisors, peers, subordinates and the general public. Nomination forms are available at lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: hr) or from department heads, employee bulletin boards or the Human Resources Department, which oversees the awards program. All nominations are considered by the Mayor's Award of Excellence Committee, which includes a representative with each union and a non-union representative appointed by the Mayor. Award winners receive a $50 gift certificate, a day off with pay and a plaque. All monthly winners and nominees are eligible to receive the annual award, which comes with a $250 gift certificate, two days off with pay and a plaque.