The City Council's plan to get tough on those not paying maintenance fees on unused burial plots in the city cemetery is paying off.

City Administrator Richard Warne told the council Tuesday that of 22 out-of-city plot owners who were in arrears on their payments, 18 have contacted the city in recent days to either make full payment on the $100 perpetual care fee or arrange a payment schedule to get the obligation retired by the end of the year.The council held a public hearing to get comments from the other four, but none attended the meeting. Warne said one has sent a letter requesting the city take the lot back. The hearing sets the stage for the city to consider repossessing the plots if other arrangements cannot be made.

Warne said a crackdown on those who have not paid has netted the city's cemetery fund more than $13,000 in recent weeks.

The council approved amendments to the city's cemetery ordinance that allows the city to begin repossession efforts if those people owning the plots do not bring maintenance payments current or make satisfactory arrangements. In passing the amendments, however, the council directed Warne to be caring but firm in getting cemetery accounts brought current by the end of the year.

The council adopted the perpetual care fee for burial plots in 1983. The fee was to be placed in a trust account and the interest generated used to maintain the cemetery. The concept has worked well, netting about $150,000 for the city, but the interest is presently only covering 97 percent of the cemetery costs.