Shelbyville looking to get tough on properties in disrepair

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Ordinance on teenage parties passes 2nd reading

By Todd Martin

The city of Shelbyville is adding more teeth to its ordinances relating to code enforcement – including a new way to collect on fines its inspectors levy.

During a special called meeting Tuesday the council conducted the first reading of an ordinance that would strengthen the city’s ability to enforce its code enforcement regulations on properties that have fallen into disrepair, mostly lawns and overgrown areas and the collection of trash, rubbish or junk cars left on lots.

“We’re having more and more trouble with citizens ignoring cutting grass, clearing overgrowth and maintaining property,” City Attorney Steven Gregory said. “Basically, these revisions will give the city not only the ability to address these issues but also a little more teeth to enforce them.”

The changes primarily concern the notice of issues pertaining to property maintenance and the penalties that go with them.

Penalties can range between $50 and $100 per offense, and a few changes to how those are collected will ensure that the city gets its money.

“Attaching the liens to their tax bills, that’s going to make people take notice,” Gregory said. “Because a lot of times property owners won’t worry about a lien if they’re not going to sell.”

Barry Edington, building official/chief code enforcement officer, said the addition of an administrative search warrant helps as well.

“Basically, if they’ve received a second notice and not moved a junk car or cleared a lot, we can come in and take care of that now and add that expense to their tax bill,” he said.

And once a property reaches a point that it begins to earn fines, each day is considered a new offense, Mayor Tom Hardesty said.

“So if we warned a property owner about a junk car that needs to be moved, and they don’t, and we fine them a hundred dollars, and the car continues to sit there for thirteen days, that’s thirteen hundred dollars,” he said. “And then we can add the expense of the tow off the lot, or if it’s a lot that needs to be cleaned, the cost of the contractor to come in and clean the lot.”

And, Gregory added, that if property goes back to the bank and is sold on the courthouse steps, “then the tax bill is the first thing that gets settled.”

Budget amendment

The council approved a budget amendment to the 2012-13 budget that concerned two large changes. The city paid off its bond on the police station. That payoff was $625,000, and the 20-year bond was paid off 10 years early.

The other main change came from three grants earned by the Shelbyville Fire Department. The three grants, which total nearly $890,000, are only partially funded at this point, but because more than $375,000 came in this year, it had to be added to the current budget. The 2012 budget year ends on June 30.

Ordinances passed

Two ordinances were passed on second reading, including an ordinance that will tighten responsibility on adults if underage drinking or drug use is found on their property.

This ordinance, which is a copy of a measure adopted in January by Shelby County Fiscal Court, will fine adults who allow minors to consume alcohol and drugs on their property. It is stricter than the requirements of Kentucky Revised Statutes because it does not require proof that the adults provided the intoxicants, only that they were present when the substances were consumed.

Police Chief Danny Goodwin and Elizabeth Pulliam, executive director of Shelby Prevention, have both spoken to the council in favor of the ordinance.

The second ordinance amended the city’s policy and procedure manual to allow city employees to donate banked sick time to other employees who have continuing health issues. The city had allowed this process for years, Hardesty has said, but did not have a written procedure for it.

Also at the meeting, the council:

  • Approved bids for police surplus vehicles – $1,253 for a 2005 Ford Focus; $808 for a 1996 Ford Explorer; $649 for a 1998 Dodge Durango; $962 for a 1996 Chevrolet 1500; $1,201 for a 2005 Ford Taurus.
  • Heard from council member Donna Eaton, in her report, ask if the council was interested in working on any kind of fireworks ordinance. Hardesty noted that fireworks, whether on the 4th of July or not, would fall under the city’s noise and nuisance act and that citizens should contact the police department if they feel fireworks are being set off too late.
  • Heard in a report from new Parks Director Shawn Pickens that the Family Activity Center memberships are up 145 from this time last year. And the park is planning fireworks again, but officials are looking for sponsors. “Clay Cottongim, the former director, is helping look for donors and sponsors,” Pickens said. “We don’t have any in yet, but if we could raise three thousand, I’d feel pretty good about it.”
  • Approved the minutes for the May 16 meeting and public hearing.
  • Approved appointments of Jeffrey Moore to the Housing Authority to complete the unexpired term of Rosemary Riggs, ending Jan. 1, 2014; and Vance Riester to the Tourism Commission for a 3-year term, ending June 30, 2016.
  • Approved the reappointments of Jay Dholakia to the Tourism Board through June 30, 2016; Nathan Riggs to the Code Enforcement Board through June 30, 2016; and Steve Collins and Belinda Nichols to the Historic District Commission through June 30, 2016.