A $40,000 snow? It’s possible under new ordinance

RED OAK — Based on figures from a recent survey, an ordinance passed last week by the Red Oak City Council could result in 300 citations, $15,000 in revenue, and nearly $40,000 in costs to local property owners in just one day.

Before the third reading and eventual approval of a snow-removal ordinance, City Administrator Brad Wright informed the Council at its meeting last week of the results of an informal survey by Codes Administrator Brad Baker.
Following a recent snow, Baker drove Broadway, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth streets to determine how many residents were in compliance with the previous ordinance, which required snow be cleared within 12 hours.
Out of 146 properties with sidewalks, Baker said 56 of them were not cleared three days after the snow stopped, or 29 percent. Of those 56, 28 of the properties were owned by out-of-towners, or were vacant.
Applying that 29 percent non-compliance figure to the estimated 900-1000 residents with sidewalks, Wright said the police department will be busy.
“To expect our police department to write 300 tickets and take care of weather-related accidents is a lot,” he said.
The new ordinance, which was approved by a 4-1 vote, requires residents to clear their sidewalks within 48 hours, or receive a warning. If the sidewalk isn’t cleared within an additional 24 hours, a citation can be issued, which carries a $50 fine.
However, Wright also wanted to point out there would also be $83 in court costs assigned to the citation, raising the total cost to the resident to $133 a day.
Council member Larry Brandstetter though pointed out those $83 in court costs are still assigned under the previous ordinance, which carried a $10 fine, and that the biggest difference will be the City intends to enforce the new one.
“To have one (an ordinance) and not enforce it is ridiculous,” Council member Mark Gregg said.
Council member Ivan Craig remained steadfast in his opposition to the ordinance, which he has voted against at every opportunity.
“This doesn’t even affect all of the citizens of Red Oak,” he said. “How many of them don’t have sidewalks, and they get off scott-free? I think this is a farce.”
Also at the meeting, the Council:
Approved $26,475 in local option sales tax funding for reimbursing marketing costs for the Red Oak Chamber and Industrial Association. Council member Mark Gregg cast the lone no vote, pointing out the City already provides $35,000 annually to defray Chamber expenses, adding that amount may need to be reduced next year as some of the marketing expenses should have been included in that amount.
Approved final plans for the bike trail, which will be submitted to the Iowa Department of Transportation for March 2011 letting.

The Red Oak Express

2012 Commerce Drive
P.O. Box 377
Red Oak, IA 51566
Phone: 712-623-2566 Fax: 712-623-2568

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