St. Francis considers administrative code enforcement

If a proposed St. Francis ordinance is approved at the Aug. 20 meeting, it will become more costly for residents to ignore code violation notifications.

If the council approves the proposed ordinance, residents will have a set time to take care of any violations and pay fines if they are not fixed, said City Administrator Matt Hylen.

According to proposed ordinance, introduced Aug. 6 with an unanimous vote, residents would have up to 20 days to correct violations.

“The number of days residents could have to take care of the problem depends on the violation,” Hylen said.

If a resident has let their grass grow too long, they will likely only have seven days to fix the problem, he said.

Under the proposed ordinance, residents will also be fined for not fixing the violations within the deadline.

The proposed ordinance would also give city staff the power to issue citations and levy fines.

The proposal would give violators 14 days to pay the fine or appeal the citation with a hearing officer.

The first fine could be $100 after the 20 day deadline, Hylen said.

If the problem is not corrected by the second deadline, the city could assess a second fine of $250.

“The fines are progressive with habitual offenders,” Hylen said.

The fines could reach up to $2,000 for a fifth violation if the violation is not corrected and any additional fines would be at the $2,000 level, Hylen said.

If the residents do not pay the fine, the council could assess it to the property, he said.

Under the existing code violation ordinance, violations are considered misdemeanors and are handled in the courts, which is a long draw out process, Hylen said.

Like the existing ordinance, the proposed ordinance will be complaint based, but it will more efficient and more effective at getting the violations fixed, he said.

If passed, it will also reduced the number of cases going to the court system and provide a new revenue stream for the city, Hylen said.

It is a good idea to allow the staff the flexibility to work with residents in situations were they can not make the deadline, like a noncompliant shed that may be frozen to the ground, said Mayor Jerry Tveit at the Aug. 6 meeting.

If approved on Aug. 20, the new ordinance would go into effect Sept. 24.

Tammy Sakry is at [email protected]