ITALY - City council members promised action Monday night after hearing a resident’s complaint about junk vehicles and other code violations.
“Since Brian and I moved to our home on Venice Drive in May of 2005, we have been trying to get the city to enforce the ordinances on junk vehicles and high grass and trash,” Karen Mathiowetz said. “As you can plainly see from the pictures I provided in your council packets, ordinances are not being enforced in my neighborhood.”
Mathiowetz said she went to city hall in May 2005 requesting code enforcement officers visit her neighborhood.
“I have been to city hall several times but have not seen anything done to remedy my problem,” she said. “In the last 28 months, I have talked to city hall personnel, the mayor, John Droll (council member) and Don Chambers (fire marshal). Now I am addressing you, asking that someone, anyone, help get our neighborhood cleaned up.”
She sought the council’s opinion as to whether she should contact the Environmental Protection Agency since the city was not taking care of enforcement issues.
“I am not sure what to do from here,” Mathiowetz said. “Either the city needs to enforce the ordinances or they need to repeal them and get them off the books. If citations were written it would do two things - get Italy cleaned up and bring revenue into the city. There is no excuse to allow our town to look the way it does when we have ordinances in force that would clean up Italy.
“Anyone that drives around can see areas that do not comply with the junk car ordinance or the health, safety and nuisances ordinance,” she said. “I would like to think that our council members would take the time to drive around and check on things like this. The council passed ordinance No. 240 in June of 1994 to take care of junk vehicles. They passed Ordinance 157 in May of 1987 and amended it in January of 2005 to take care of high grass, trash and nuisances.
“These ordinances are evidently not worth the paper they are written on,” she said.
Ordinance No. 240 pertains to junk vehicles and describes one as being inoperable or not having lawfully affixed to it either an unexpired license plate or a valid motor vehicle safety inspection certificate, or one that is wrecked, dismantled, partially dismantled or discarded, or that remains inoperable for a continuous period of more than 45 days.
Council members agreed the photos Mathiowetz provided showed vehicles in violation of the ordinance.
City secretary Cynthia Olguin said the city was working on who would write letters and follow up with a citation.
“We need to get everything in place,” she said.
“So who’s not in place?” Droll asked.
“Can we, at least, get letters sent out to these homeowners? Give them 10 days to acknowledge the letter,” council member Rodney Guthrie said, with Droll adding, “Give them 30 days to move the cars after the 10 days.”
Olguin said Becky Boyd could generate the letter with Chambers signing it. Chambers, however, said he was not a code enforcement officer.
“Then get the letter drafted and have Bill Scott (police chief) sign it,” Guthrie said.
“Letters will go out this month,” council member Mark Souder Sr. said.
“Ordinances are only effective if they are enforced,” Mathiowetz said. “I need someone to tell me not only what can be done but what will be done to enforce the ordinances on the books to get my neighborhood cleaned up.”
In other business, the council adopted a tax rate of $0.771111 per $100 assessed valuation of taxable property for fiscal year 2007-2008 at a meeting Monday night.
The breakdown includes a tax of $0.450241 per $100 valuation for maintenance and operation of the municipal government and current expenses for the city. A tax of $0.320870 per $100 assessed valuation will go toward interest and principal on the city’s outstanding bonds.
The tax rate will raise taxes for maintenance and operations on a $100,000 home by about $63.10.
The council also adopted an ordinance providing expenditures for 2007-2008, beginning Oct. 1, 2007, and ending Sept. 30, 2008, and also approved an ordinance establishing a convenience fee of $2.75 per transaction to be collected at the point of sale for people wishing to use a credit/debit card for city services. The fee becomes effective Nov. 1.
The city has paid $3,427.15 to the bank for processing credit and debit cards, Olguin said, noting the transaction fee would recover some of those expenses.
Prior to adjournment, Mayor Frank Jackson said, “This is the last meeting for 2006-2007. It’s been a rough year. I want to thank my department heads for hanging in there.
“Despite everything, it’s been a pretty good year all-in-all,” Jackson said. “I tell my department heads that I couldn’t have done it without them.”