Monday, May 16, 2016

Council considering new sidewalk ordinance, cost-sharing program with percentages to be decided

The walk at 122 W. Main St. is one of many
in poor repair. (Photo by Casey Parker-Bell)
The Midway City Council is considering legislation that would create a cost-sharing program to improve the city's hazardous and sometimes incomplete sidewalks.

The legislation consists of a draft ordinance and draft resolution that were distributed at Monday night's council meeting.

The ordinance would clarify the city law that makes property owners responsible for sidewalks abutting their property, raise inspection fees for repair permits, require the use of contractors approved by the city, and allow it to share costs with property owners.  The fees, now $5 for the first 50 feet and $1 for each additional 1 to 50 feet, would rise to $20 plus $5 per additional section.

"If property owners refuse or choose not to participate they will nonetheless be expected to repair, remove and replace sidewalks on the list to be composed, at their own cost," city attorney Phil Moloney told Mayor Grayson Vandegrift in an email.

A completely new section of the ordinance would allow the city to repair or replace sidewalks if the property owner did not get the permit within three weeks of a city notice that the work was needed, and to place a lien on the property to cover the cost.

Also, the fine for violation of the ordinance would be $25 to $250 per day, up from per occurence, instead of the current $10 a day.

The resolution calls for the city to draw up a list of sidewalks that need to be repaired, replaced or installed and notify each abutting property owner, who would have a time period yet to be decided to agree to participate in cost sharing and pay their share of the costs, as determined by public bidding. The city's share of the cost also has yet to be determined.

The city would pay the entire cost of any new sidewalk, and the program would end Oct. 31.

Vandegrift's proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, introduced as an ordinance and given first reading Monday night, includes $25,000 for sidewalk work. However, at this point the city has little or no idea how much money would be needed to share costs with property owners.

The council is expected to fill in the blanks in the three weeks before the council's next scheduled meeting, on June 6. Bruce Southworth, chair of the special sidewalk committee appointed by Vandegrift, said he expects the ordinance to get its first reading at that meeting. Ordinances require two readings; resolutions can be passed at any time.

The council also heard first reading of an amended garbage ordinance that would raise rates 8 percent, to $12.91 per month for residential customers and $27.54 for businesses, which get two pickups a week. Rumpke Waste & Recycling requested the increase last month and the council agreed, authorizing Vandegrift to sign a new two-year contract with the company.

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